AUSTIN (KXAN) – A week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated outdoor COVID-19 recommendations, Austin Public Health has released revised risk-based guidelines for vaccinated, partially vaccinated residents and unvaccinated on May 4. Austin-Travis County is currently listed as Stage 3 on the five-step coronavirus risk level scale.
“We want people to get vaccinated,” Dr. Mark Escott of the Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority said in the statement. “Now and certainly in the future, as the vaccination rate improves, there will be an improvement in the freedom associated with vaccination. In other words, the need to continue masking and the other precautions needed will continue to decline for those who are vaccinated.
Individuals are still expected to follow local guidelines set by local schools, businesses and venues, regardless of a person’s risk-based stage or vaccination status. Health authority rules remain intact until May 18, according to the statement.
Indoor Gatherings: Fully vaccinated people have extra leeway when it comes to attending private gatherings indoors. Under a stage 1 or stage 2 designation, fully vaccinated people can attend private indoor events without a mask. For Stages 3-5, vaccinated residents can still attend, coupled with the APH’s additional recommendation to wear a mask.
Partially and unvaccinated residents are still suggested to wear masks when indoors at private gatherings in Stages 1-3. APH advises against unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals attending private Stage 4 events and 5.
Outdoor gatherings: In Stages 1-3, fully vaccinated people can participate in outdoor activities without using a mask, per APH. Fully vaccinated individuals are still advised to wear masks in Stages 4 and 5, in addition to following hand washing and social distancing provisions.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people are recommended to continue wearing masks outdoors in Stages 1-3, and are advised not to attend outdoor events or gatherings in Stages 4-5.
The guidelines follow the new CDC Recommendations for Vaccinated Persons published on April 27, which outlines safe practices for outdoor exercise, meals and gatherings.
Those fully vaccinated can resume travel with the addition of masks, hand washing and social distancing practices at all stages, according to APH guidelines. Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated residents can travel with all additional precautions in Stages 1-3.
However, high-risk individuals are not advised to travel during a Stage 3 designation due to their susceptibility to contracting the virus. Travel to stage 4 is only recommended in limited and essential cases, and the APH does not recommend anyone who is not fully vaccinated to travel to stage 5.
Those who are fully vaccinated can safely dine and shop in Stages 2-5, with recommended mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing guidelines outside of Stage 1.
Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated residents are advised to maintain all mask-wearing and safety provisions during Stages 1 and 2, and are suggested to do so only during Stage 3 if they have low risk. Meals and shopping during Stages 4 and 5 are only recommended if deemed essential and when combined with safety measures.
When will Austin-Travis County move to Stage 2?
Along with the new indoor and outdoor guidelines, the APH changed its Stage 2 threshold to 5-14 hospital admissions as part of the 7-day rolling average. The 7-day average is the primary tool used to monitor risk-based guidelines. Other characteristics tracked include positivity rates, doubling time for new cases and the number of patients on ventilators or in the intensive care unit.
To enter Stage 1, the APH said the region would have a threshold of less than five new hospital admissions over the 7-day average, or 70-90% herd immunity via rates. vaccination.
“Due to both the decrease in length of hospital stays and the decline in mortality rates, we feel comfortable reassessing the transition of stages,” Escott said.