Local officials update risk-based COVID-19 guidelines

Talk 1370 Newsroom
May 28, 2020 - 2:57 pm
Coronavirus COVID-19

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Local health officials are sounding the warning call on keeping new hospitalizations down as the economy reopens amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, and Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott held a news conference Thursday updating the risk-based guidelines the city and county are using to guide their recommendations to the public. They say keeping the new hospitalizations number under 20 a day is a key metric in allowing the reopening to continue and preventing a overwhelming surge in area hospitals.

"If our community wants to maximize the chances for successfully reopening the economy, then we each have to do our part — individuals and businesses — to keep daily hospitalizations from reaching 20 per day," Adler said. "We do this by rigorously following six-foot social distancing, wearing face masks, and getting tested and staying at home if you’re not feeling well. How important is it to us to maintain opening up the economy? We get to decide by our actions."

"Austin has done a great job of flattening the curve, but we have to continue those efforts to protect ourselves, to protect Austin, and protect Texas," Escott said. "We need to protect both public health and the economy - if we go out, let's do it safely so we can keep and grow both."

Five County MSA Admissions Graph

Local officials say the risk stages will be reassessed as data from the state's efforts to reopen are received over the coming weeks. The risk based guidelines system is coupled with other guidance that will be taken to help avoid a secondary quarantine period. In adopting a stage level approach, normalizing activity - or imposing restrictions as necessary - will be reintroduced in the event of a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases.

"While Governor Abbott focuses on reopening businesses, Travis County remains focused on the health and safety of our community," Eckhardt, who now acts as a special assistant to Interim Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, said. "These risk-bases guidelines will help our whole community prepare."

Health officials spoke Wednesday on the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 hitting the Austin area in June. The prediction is based on a University of Texas model that shows the potential for a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations.

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