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Austin Public Health seeing 'slight uptick in indicators' pointing to possible holiday COVID surge


Before the Thanksgiving holiday, Austin Public Health sent thanks to the Austin community for masking and getting vaccinated but also warned of another possible surge if COVID precautions are not taken this holiday season.

In a press conference on Tuesday, health leaders urged Austinites to get tested if they've engaged with people that they aren't sure are vaccinated or are sick before visiting other households; to wear a mask when there is high community transmission; and to get the vaccine or booster shot.

Health officials said they are focusing on the community transmission rate, which is the way the virus is spreading, heading into the holidays since transmission is seen before hospitalizations. At a current rate of 60 cases per 100,000 residents, Austin Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said transmission is substantial and everyone is recommended to mask indoors and in public places.

Walkes pointed to other cities, like El Paso, that is seeing an uptick in their transmission rate heading into Thanksgiving.

"We came off Halloween and we pretty much kept cases at bay, but we want to maintain a flattened curve as we enter into the holiday... cold and flu season," chief epidemiologist Janet Pichette said. "It's going to be all the more crucial to make sure you have vaccine on board in the coming months as you get ready for the Christmas and other holidays, and to make sure you are doing those preventative measures that we always ask you to do."

The department said it is already seeing a 33% increase in the number of new cases from two weeks ago to last week.

The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions has continued to stay in the Stage 2 threshold of APH's risk-based guidelines, although it has not transitioned out of Stage 3 officially to avoid the community easing off precautions that could lead to another surge. Austin recently came off a summer surge due to the Delta variant, which carries two times the virus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

APH is encouraging residents to wear a mask when transmission could be high, such as in an indoor setting, and to get extra protection from booster shots, which are now available to everyone over 18 years of age. Those who received their vaccine before May are recommended to get a booster.

"The only thing you should be bringing to the Thanksgiving table is fixins', not COVID," Walkes said.


A mortgage banker walks us through the math on purchasing a 'mid-price' Austin home

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.

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Fall camping: Camp Fimfo Waco offers one-of-a-kind experiences in the heart of Texas
Camp Fimfo Waco

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!

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