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Austin experiencing biggest COVID surge with highest positivity rate to date


Austin Public Health officials are once again asking residents to vaccinate, booster and mask in public as the city faces its biggest COVID surge to date.

Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a Monday morning press conference that the Omicron variant replicates 70 times faster than previous variants, leading to the “dramatically” increasing surge.

“Whenever you talk, cough, sneeze, sing, shout and you’re not masked, you’re able to spread this virus much more quickly to others, which is why masking is such an important part of what we’ve used in the previous surges,” Walkes said.

APH said the surge is resulting from the holiday season. The city is now reporting new hospitalizations are at a seven-day moving average of 113.9 cases with the community transmission rate at a high of 1,299 per 100,000 people as of Thursday. This time last year, Austin’s seven-day moving average was 93.7 cases.

According to APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette, the number of positive cases is likely much higher since they are only able to see the number of confirmed cases. Additionally, Pichette said testing sites are struggling to keep up with data entry as they process “thousands and thousands” of tests, of which 36% are coming back positive—the highest ever.

“Basically anyone you may encounter may have COVID and while they may have mild symptoms, they are still extremely infectious,” Pichette said. “You need to be very, very careful about who you encounter and make sure that you do everything to protect yourself and your family at this point.”

Due to the “unprecedented” surge, resources like isolation facilities are near exhaustion again as hospital systems are seeing record numbers of COVID cases. Staffing shortages continue to be an issue, resulting in lower care capacity, and existing staff members coming down with the virus lowers resources that much more.

In the meantime, APH officials are urging everyone over the age of 5 years old to get vaccinated, get a booster if it's been five months since your second dose and mask in all public spaces. Walkes said that even a 10% increase in mask usage would significantly reduce transmission in the community.

On Thursday, local officials announced new orders for businesses to follow that would encourage mask-wearing.

“We are seeing a trend of increased masking in our community,” Walkes said. “If that continues, if people continue to stay home when they’re ill so they’re not spreading the illness, we could possibly see this turn around in the near future, but it really depends on us.”


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway