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Even as Austin reached the highest number of deaths in a single day this week, Austin Public Health officials say they see potential positive signs for the city's COVID situation.

Austin's seven-day average of COVID-19 cases has fallen slowly but steadily since late August. The seven-day moving average for hospital admissions is at 57, down from a high of 83 earlier in the summer.

Travis County also continues to make slow but steady progress on its percentage of vaccinated residents, nearing the 70% threshold for individuals age 12 years and older that officials feel is necessary to slow the spread of the virus. Third shots of the vaccine, which could be readily accessible as soon as later this month, could boost COVID immunity as well.

"We believe that the number of 70% is important," Walkes said. "There have been numerous studies around the world regarding herd immunity and showing that at that 70% mark we are able to protect our society from the spread at some of the rates that we have been experiencing."

Vaccinated individuals make up close to 1% of COVID cases, Austin Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said, with almost all in ICUs unvaccinated.

Other challenges remain in the city's effort to curb positive case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths. Officials pointed to a lack of effective contact tracing by certain schools that have reopened in person, as well as the Mu variant now present in Texas.

Officials are continuing to urge Austinites to get vaccinated and mask indoors to help curb the spread.


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