The average number of daily new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the Austin metro area has been in steady decline over the last week. It is now at 44.3, down from a peak of 75.1 in early July, moving closer to the threshold for a lower risk level—Stage 3—and the loosening restrictions associated with it.
"Whether we actually go into that next stage is up to [Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority] Dr. [Mark] Escott," Mayor Steve Adler said on Facebook Live Tuesday evening. "But we should all feel really good about what we've done in terms of changing that trajectory."
The current threshold for Stage 3 is 40 or fewer average daily hospital admissions, but health officials also consider other factors.
"We are currently evaluating the impact of the threshold as well as updated modeling and secondary indicators, to determine the stage of risk for the City of Austin and Travis County," an Austin Public Health spokesperson wrote in an email to Austonia. "When, or if, something changes, we will definitely let you know."
Austin has been in Stage 4, according to the city's risk-based guidelines, since June 15, when the moving average of new hospital admissions tipped past 20. Local health officials attributed the increase, and the surge that followed, to the state's reopening plan and Memorial Day festivities.
Austin Public Health updated its guidelines late last month, raising its thresholds for Stages 2, 3 and 4. Where Stage 4 used to range from a daily average of 20 and 70 new hospital admissions, for example, it now ranges from 40 to 123.
While new confirmed COVID cases, hospital admissions and the positivity rate among those being tested are now in steady decline, other metrics are less promising.
"The ICUs are still stressed," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday. "The personnel are stressed."
Austin's three hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and St. David's HealthCare—reported an ICU occupancy rate of 83% on Tuesday, only slightly down from a high of 89% in mid-July.
The local COVID-19 transmission rate also needs to decline further, Adler said, before it is safe to reopen businesses and schools. This will require continued adherence to the state's masking mandate and local social distancing recommendations.
"There will be calls for us to return to where we were in May and June real quickly and have it happen fast, and then we can do this up-and-down and up-and-down again, ultimately putting people's health and lives in danger and really ending up in a disruptive economic cycle," Adler said in the video update. "None of those things we want to do."
Want to read more stories like this one? Start every day with a quick look at what's happening in Austin. Sign up for Austonia.com's free daily morning email.
- Austin COVID-19 projections show surge scenarios - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health may raise COVID risk level to Stage 5 - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health issues color-coded, 5-stage risk chart as ... ›
- Austin hospitalizations trigger stage 4 risk - austonia ›
- Austin COVID hospitalizations fall, but risk level remains - austonia ›
- Austin Public Health announces COVID-19 decline in the area - austonia ›
Lately, the crypto market is looking shaky.
The price of bitcoin fell by more than half from its high, the digital currency luna crashed to $0 and a type of so-called stablecoin TerraUSD has been described as dead.
Reporting from the LA Times notes that experts seeing a correlation between traditional markets and the cryptocurrency market is high right now, with plunges in one being followed by a plunge in the other. On Wednesday, stocks had their worst day in more than two years with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 1,164 points.
Crypto’s volatility has long been questioned, especially after SXSW this year was filled with Web3 enthusiasts and displays.
With 8% of Texans owning Bitcoin and many others involved in the local crypto and Web3 scene, what are they feeling amid the crash?
In a written comment to Austonia, ATX DAO said a positive with the downturn is that “most of the speculative moneygrab type projects get washed out of the market, and the quality projects that deliver real value remain and gather more attention.”
The group went on to say it could work to their advantage as they carry out their latest project: a mural at Native Hostel that will have an NFT version. They’ll use sales toward donations to HOPE Outdoor Gallery, a local nonprofit that supports artists and creatives.
Meanwhile, Yagub Rahimov, a founder of an Austin-based Web3 company explains that they aren’t really impacted by the crash.
Since the company known as Tested Web functions as a Web3 online reputation marketplace, it is utilizing blockchain technology without tokenizing.
“We are a share to earn marketplace. That means that any activity that users have on tested web.com, we will be rewarding,” Rahimov said. “Those rewards are coming in the form of rewards points. And every quarter they can opt in to receive either a gift card or a check. We are not issuing any cryptocurrency. That's one of the important elements that I believe we got it right that way.”
With recent developments at Tested Web, Rahimov says he “couldn’t be happier.” After struggling to find tech talent in early spring, he’s had a hiring spree in the last 10 days and received a $1 million grant and partnership with Silent Notary, a blockchain-powered validation provider.
But his recent business success aside, Rahimov is noticing what’s happening in the markets and predicts that the correlation between the crypto market and traditional one will be broken.
“The way Bitcoin was introduced back in 2009, it was as a reply or response to the 2008 market crash,” Rahimov said. “And it really feels like we are in 2007, 2008, actually, early, early days of the market crash. And if it becomes that way, very likely that the winner is going to be those of decentralized parties.”
- Local investors create ATX DAO, where crypto meets community ... ›
- Austin announces crypto-friendly initiatives ahead of SXSW - austonia ›
- Austin City Council hesitantly embraces studying crypto - austonia ›
- How crypto is being used to support Ukraine - austonia ›
- Crypto-curious? Here's Austonia's mini-guide to getting started in ... ›
- An Austin group is exploring new territories in crypto by providing ... ›
- Austin leads in Texas crypto job market - austonia ›
- Difficulties in incorporating crypto in Austin: risk, inclusion, energy ... ›
Barton Springs Pool is on a condensed schedule while the city tries to fill out its lifeguard roster.
The popular pool is currently closed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while it navigates a lifeguard shortage. The city is offering bonuses to new applicants who can start by early June.
Austin Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Jodi Jay said there are 207 lifeguards ready to work and 100 incoming but the department needs 750 to be fully staffed.
Zoom out: The pandemic has had a lasting impact on hiring—in 2019, the city was able to hire 850 lifeguards. The Aquatic Department has been unable to match those numbers since it reopened training classes in spring of 2021.
Why it matters: The city needs at least 400 lifeguards, plus 30 with open water certification, to open pools on a modified schedule by June 4. Without hitting that mark, some facilities could limit hours or close.
The job pays between $16-19 an hour, anyone over 15 can get certified and there are bonuses on the table:
- $500 bonus if you get certified and start working by June 6.
- $500 bonus if you work through August 14.
- $250 bonus if you get advanced certification.