Amidst “Catastrophic Surge,” Austin Moves to Stage 4 of COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines

Escott: “We have reached another critical moment”

Mayor Steve Adler (Screenshot via )

Austin Public Health announced today that the city and county have moved into Stage 4 of the local COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines. Officials urged residents to recommit to avoiding gatherings as we head into the holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is a time where for COVID-19 we are going to be the most vulnerable,” said Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott. “It's effectively Labor Day and Memorial Day and Independence Day all combined into one big event.”

The announcement comes as Austin continues to see significant increases in new cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions. Last week Escott warned transitioning to Stage 4 was a real possibility if these trends continued as they have over the past month, and that the benchmarks for entering more restrictive stages would be revised downward. Formerly, the threshold for entering Stage 4 was a seven-day moving average of 40 hospitalizations; the new threshold is now 30 (as of Nov. 19, Austin’s average is 32).

The revision, said Escott, is in an effort to avoid overwhelming Austin’s hospital system, as he again reiterated that local hospital staffing is equipped to handle a surge capacity of 200 ICU beds, even though their space and equipment is sufficient to handle 350 patients in intensive care.

Austin Public Health urges businesses to operate at 25% or 50% capacity to help mitigate the now mostly uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus. If steps are not taken now to again “flatten the curve” of new infections, Escott warned, “We can be in Stage 5 territory in just a few weeks.” Austin Public Health’s contact tracing suggests that most of the infection transmission is happening in social gatherings between people not living together.

In Stage 4, everyone, regardless of risk, should avoid nonessential travel. Higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) are encouraged to avoid nonessential dining and shopping, as well as any gatherings of more than two people. All others should avoid gatherings of more than 10.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Beth Sullivan
Qmmunity: Queer-to-Queer Cheer
Qmmunity: Queer-to-Queer Cheer
Get in the holigay spirit with Austin Gay Men's Chorus, Little Gay Shop, and more events

Dec. 3, 2021

Qmmunity Gift Guide 2021
Qmmunity Gift Guide 2021
Look good, feel good this holigay season with Austin’s LGBTQIA makers

Dec. 2, 2021


COVID-19, Mark Escott, flattening the curve, Steve Adler

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle