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(Travis County COVID-19 Public Dashboard)

Models show Austin's prevalence of COVID-19 is on the decline, Dr. Spencer Fox said, but it is not yet as low as it was pre-surge.

After a month of worryingly sharp increases in daily confirmed case counts, hospital admissions and ICU occupancy rates related to COVID-19, Austin is now experiencing a steady decline.


"We're doing well," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told county commissioners on Tuesday.

As of Monday evening, the metro area reports a seven-day moving average of 47 daily COVID-related hospital admissions, down from a peak of 75.1 on July 9.

But there's still work to be done. ICUs remain near capacity, and their personnel is stressed.

"Now's not the time to dance," Dr. Escott said.

Surge lessons

Austin is at a critical point, said Dr. Spencer Fox, associate director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin.

"We still have relatively high transmission compared to what we were seeing in March, April, May and even early June," he told Austonia. "But we have shown as a community the ability to start lowering transmission to a point that the epidemic is declining locally."



There is room for this decline to continue.

"The ideal situation is to push prevalence low enough that you have testing resources capable of getting timely test results and enough contact tracing resources to trace every contact of infected individuals," Fox said. "What that will do is eventually put us in a place where we can actually be tracking every infection in the city."

Austin Public Health recently expanded its testing capacity but continues to limit access and report slow turnaround times—up to 10 days—which stymie contact-tracing efforts. Dr. Escott said Tuesday that over the last week, APH has seen lower demand for COVID-19 testing, which may reflect the lower COVID-19 transmission rate across the city.

Pushing this rate lower will also make reopening schools and other businesses more feasible—so long as certain precautions are taken. Dr. Escott said a team of local experts is working on a set of risk-based guidelines for area schools and that their recommendations will likely include a phased reopening, starting at 25% occupancy.

"Let me just be clear: by reopening things, I don't mean just go back to life as normal," Dr. Fox said, adding that Austinites will have to continue to wear masks, socially distance and wash their hands to avoid another surge.

While the future remains uncertain, the recent surge—and the current decline—offers new insights into how best to avoid one in the future.

"We weren't sure that, as hospitalizations were surging, if people would actually be able to reduce transmission enough to slow that surge without having the actual stay-home order put back in place," Dr. Fox said. "It's a great sign that we were able to do that—and will help us in planning the future, potentially not needing to think about a stay-home order but rather consider public health messaging and communication to get people to respond accordingly."

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The long-awaited day is here; Austin FC takes the field with LAFC. (Austonia)

It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!

Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.

5 p.m: Kickoff!

It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!

4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home

Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.

4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium

Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!

~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds

With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.

~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA

(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)

Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.

Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.

11:45 a.m: We landed!

View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.

We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.

8:20 a.m: LA bound

Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.

A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.

As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.


Ingredients:

  • 750 ml Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 16 oz strawberries

Directions: Drop sliced strawberries into glass container filled with Tito's Handmade Vodka. Let sit in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Once desired flavor is reached remove fruit. Enjoy!

Years before the city of Austin went Verde, thousands of the city's soccer fans formed a supporters' group—MLS in Austin—for a team that didn't even exist yet.

Now, as the team's catchphrase suggests, those same fans are #LISTOS as they prepare to see their team on national television at Austin FC's debut on Saturday.

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