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‘The pandemic’s nonetheless a pandemic’ | Austin Public Well being leaders present COVID-19 replace

Leaders with Austin Public Well being are optimistic however urge the neighborhood to stay vigilant.

AUSTIN, Texas — COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations are down in Austin-Travis County, however we aren’t fully within the clear but.

Throughout a COVID-19 Q&A on Friday, Feb. 18, Austin Public Well being leaders had been optimistic in regards to the space’s present scenario however urged residents to stay vigilant.

Well being Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes indicated that this can be a time of transition and we appear to be on “the opposite aspect” of the current omicron surge. However whereas she mentioned it does look as if we’re approaching a time after we can say we’ve got herd immunity, it’s not time to calm down.

“It is not over. The pandemic’s nonetheless a pandemic,” Walkes mentioned.

Beneath are a few of the key takeaways from Friday’s COVID-19 Q&A.

Give attention to boosters

APH leaders proceed to encourage everybody who’s eligible to get vaccinated and people who have gotten their major sequence of vaccines to additionally get boosted. 

Cassandra DeLeon, APH’s chief administrative officer for illness prevention, mentioned the neighborhood has executed effectively with getting the vaccine. As of Friday, 72% of the inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated. However DeLeon additionally mentioned solely a bit of over 30% of absolutely vaccinated people have gotten their booster, even though the vast majority of the world’s absolutely vaccinated inhabitants is due for that shot.

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“We now have a brand new activity,” DeLeon mentioned. “We actually want to consider the inhabitants getting up-to-date on the vaccine.”

Adjustments coming to COVID-19 testing operations, dashboards

APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette echoed Walkes’ statements that native COVID-19 numbers are trying higher, with the world seeing a considerable lower in instances as we come off of the omicron surge.

Due to this, Austin-Travis County is altering a few of its operations.

Pichette mentioned that demand for APH’s testing operations has decreased considerably. Subsequently, APH might be consolidating its testing websites. Beginning subsequent week, there’ll now not be testing operations on the Travis County Expo Heart or Dove Springs Recreation Heart.

Federal contractors have been working a testing website at Metz Elementary College. APH groups will assume testing duties at Metz beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Clinic hours might be Tuesday via Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the pliability to increase if essential.

Pichette additionally mentioned main revisions are on the way in which for the world’s COVID-19 dashboards and key indicators. 

She mentioned a part of the rationale for the dashboard revisions is to align extra with the Texas Division of Well being Companies, which has just lately made dashboard revisions of its personal. However APH additionally needs to offer the neighborhood with the chance to see what the “true illness burden” is in Austin-Travis County.

A method APH plans to try this is to incorporate lab-confirmed constructive instances, or possible instances, as a part of the dashboard revisions. Pichette mentioned “main adjustments” to the dashboard and key indicators may be anticipated someday subsequent week.

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“I feel the perfect data we’ve got, the perfect we are able to fine-tune and put together this information for you, will show you how to along with your decision-making as you progress ahead,” Pichette mentioned.

Pichette additionally cautioned that whereas a lot of the information signifies a constructive pattern for our space, 66 folks nonetheless died from COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County within the final two weeks, so the chance is just not totally gone.

What occurs subsequent relies on neighborhood motion

APH Director Adrienne Stirrup additionally positioned an emphasis on the neighborhood remaining vigilant because the pandemic continues – regardless of how exhausting the method is.

“Sure, we’re making nice strides. Sure, a few of the key indicators are shifting down. And we’re all bored with carrying masks. However we are able to’t merely make this virus go away simply because we’re drained or as a result of we’re fatigued or as a result of we wish to get again to what we really feel is regular. We do must proceed to pay it ahead,” Stirrup mentioned.

“If the simplest factor that you are able to do is to put on a masks to maintain your self protected, to maintain a colleague from having to go to a funeral for an in depth relative or a cherished one, to maintain your aged grandma, papa protected, then this can be a seemingly straightforward factor to do,” Stirrup continued.

Austin-Travis County stays in Stage 5 for now, although Walkes mentioned the world may probably be in Stage 4 inside the “subsequent 10 days or so.” Whether or not that occurs, nevertheless, will depend upon the neighborhood’s actions. 

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