After sounding the alarm last week that the pandemic was growing in Austin, local health officials said Tuesday there are signs of a possible plateau. But caseload increases across the state suggest another surge is on the horizon, and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that there is a 100% chance the pandemic is growing locally.
"Right now, the projections for Thanksgiving are bleak, but it's not too late to turn that around," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said. "And I'll tell you that if we experience a surge during Thanksgiving, that surge will not be over by Christmas."
Positively, the seven-day moving average of daily new confirmed cases in Travis County is 86, as of Monday evening, down from 93 a week ago. Similarly, the seven-day moving average of daily new hospital admissions is 21, down from more than 23 last Wednesday, and only 11 new admissions were reported on Monday.
Escott said this is "not a clear downward direction yet" but expressed hope for further decline.
However, there are other indicators that remain concerning.
The COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin project the Austin metro will "break into Stage 4 territory of risk as early as Nov. 4," Escott said.
(COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin)
Currently, the Austin area is at a Stage 3 level of risk, according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines. The main factor in determining risk is the moving average number of daily COVID-related hospital admissions. At Stage 4—which the metro was in between late June and late July—the daily hospital admissions would total 70 or more.
Escott emphasized that Austinites can reverse this trajectory by redoubling their protective actions: masking, social distancing and washing their hands. But he expressed concern about the consortium's models for different large cities across Texas—and especially El Paso, where hospitals are at capacity and a countywide curfew is in effect.
"This is certainly something we have to pay attention to because, as we saw this summer, surges in other jurisdictions across the state often predated surges of our own," he said.
Another concern is a significant increase in the number of new COVID cases reported at long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.
In the last two weeks, Austin-Travis County facilities have reported 40 new cases, four times the number reported in the previous two-week period.
Compounding this risk is a shortage of personal protective equipment.
The Texas Public Interest Research Group, a left-of-center advocacy group, released a report on Tuesday that found more than 10% of nursing homes across the state have no N95 masks.
"It's unconscionable that Texas is dealing with severe PPE shortages at this point in the pandemic," TexPIRG State Director Bay Scoggin said at a press conference on Tuesday.
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!