Despite over 10 days of lower hospital admissions, Austin Public Health said in a press conference Friday that they will remain in Stage 3 COVID risk-based guidelines ahead of the holiday season.
Austin has seen a seven-day rolling average of 14 or fewer hospitalizations for a week and a half, which technically reaches the threshold for APH to return to Stage 2 guidelines for the first time since the onset of the third surge in July.
Austin will remain in Stage 3 of its risk-based guidelines. (Austin Public Health)
At Stage 2, vaccinated individuals would only be recommended to wear a mask when traveling, lifting masking recommendations for indoor private gatherings and high-risk individuals while dining. Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks at all gatherings outside of the home while still in Stage 3.
Health officials said they won't downgrade the city's recommendations in fear of repeating mistakes over 2020's holiday season. Austin-Travis County Health Authority Desmar Walkes said that community-based transmission, which counts the number of cases per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period, is a new factor to be considered.
"Doctors like to not just treat disease, but we like to prevent disease," Walkes said. "New information from what we've just experienced with the latest Delta surge, and lessons learned globally has shown that (community-based transmission) is an indicator along with a seven-day moving average of hospitalizations that will help us make decisions to keep our community and our hospital system protected."
Prevention is key for APH after the summer's third surge, which peaked at 23 deaths on a single day on September 8 as the city reached a "grim milestone" of 1,000 COVID deaths.
Walkes said that APH is looking back on missed signs from the onset of the third surge, which was spurred by the highly-contagious Delta variant, and an after-holiday spike that took place last winter.
"If you're that person who's watching the metrics...you were ready to roll into Stage Two and enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday with limited restrictions," Walkes said. "And I know we're tired. We've been in this for two years, we've lost friends, we've lost family. As the virus continues to struggle to survive, we have to continue to get smarter, make sure that we're using every piece of data that is at our disposal (and) make sure that we're giving the community the best information possible."
Austin last switched stages on Oct. 12 as ICU beds opened up, cases declined and vaccinations increased. For the first time since Sept. 10, Austin saw zero COVID deaths over Halloween weekend after 51 straight days of reported deaths, the longest streak to date.
In the press conference, APH officials reminded residents to consider a booster shot, especially those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot, which only keeps ideal efficacy for around two months. APH sites, Walgreens, CVS locations and Tarrytown Pharmacy are also distributing pediatric vaccine doses after special vaccines were cleared for those aged 5-11.
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So you want to buy a house?
To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.
Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.
So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.
Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.
Holland says that while the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is often mentioned in the media, the most popular loan that he's seeing now is a 7/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which has a fixed rate for 7 years and then adjusts every year based on market rates, with a limit on how much it can increase each year. The interest is amortized over a 30-year period. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) offer lower rates than fixed rate loans.
Here are the numbers, which are examples. In practice, exact numbers vary with a buyer's credit rating and overall financial situation, and with the rate, which can move up or down at any time.
- $650,000 home purchase price
- 7/1 ARM at 5.875%
- 5% down payment, equals $32,500
- 95% financed, equals $617,500
- $4,990 payment, including principle and interest (P&I), insurance, and property tax
- Typically, a borrower's debt to income ratio needs to be at or below 45%. So for this mortgage, a borrower, or borrowers, would need income of roughly $11,100/month, or $133,200/year. That number could be higher, depending on the buyer's outstanding credit balances on things like credit cards and car loans.
Holland says he's had a lot of clients approved for loans who were house hunting but have put that on hold, hoping prices come down.
Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!