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Shift to Stage 4: Austin downgrades COVID risk-based guidelines as hospitalizations, cases decline

A few COVID risk-based guidelines have been relaxed in Austin as the city downgrades its safety recommendations for certain individuals. (St. David's South Austin Medical Center/Facebook)

Austin Public Health announced Tuesday that Travis County would shift down to Stage 4 COVID risk-based guidelines as cases and hospitalizations slow from the peak of the summer surge.


Stage 4 guidelines don't change much for low-risk vaccinated individuals, and APH recommends that Austinites mask up as they dine, shop and participate in indoor gatherings or large outdoor gatherings where social distancing is impossible.

High-risk vaccinated individuals who were advised to stay at home unless essential under Stage 5 can once again partake in gatherings and events as well. Stage 4 recommends that unvaccinated residents still avoid indoor and outdoor private gatherings but that travel can once again resume if essential.

(Austin Public Health)

(Austin Public Health)


The news comes as the seven-day moving average for hospitalizations dipped to 440 on Monday, down 33% from a peak of 641.9 on Aug. 27. While ICU capacity remains at critical levels, the percentage of COVID patients in ICU beds has decreased from its August peak with 162 of the area's 200 available beds occupied by COVID patients.

In Tuesday's Travis County Commissioners and Austin City Council joint meeting, Dr. Desmar Walkes once again implored residents to get vaccinated and reminded residents that booster shots have been recommended for residents 65 and over and immunocompromised individuals.

Walkes recommended that parents vaccinate their children ages 12 and older and that children younger than 12 continue to mask up.

"The Delta variant showed us how unpredictable and deadly this virus can be, especially for the unvaccinated," Walkes said. "However, even as we continue to see the data trending in a positive direction, we cannot act as if the pandemic is over. Our hospital and ICUs still remain at critical levels, and we need the public to continue to work together to ensure we do not contribute to a new surge."

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