Another COVID-19 surge is starting to show itself in Austin as omicron sweeps the nation. In response, Austin Public Health is upping its COVID recommended precautions by officially going into Stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines.
At Stage 4, fully vaccinated individuals are recommended to wear masks when gathering with people outside of their household, traveling, dining and shopping; booster shots are suggested as well. Partially or unvaccinated individuals should wear masks, avoid gatherings with people outside of their household, only travel and shop if essential, and choose takeaway/curbside options for dining; it is also advised to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
APH made the move to Stage 4 as the community transmission rate is at a high 404.46. The state average is 319.7. Cases have been on the rise since the first omicron cases were discovered in Austin earlier this month. The variant has shown much faster transmission than delta, though it is still unclear whether the sickness that ensues is milder or not.
The seven-day moving average of hospitalizations jumped to 36 on Tuesday, up from 28 the day before. Earlier this month, the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium by the University of Texas projected that community transmission of omicron could pose record hospitalizations and surpass all previous peaks.
"COVID-19 hospitalizations and the community transmission rate are surging once again. This means our ICUs are filling and that emergency care could become compromised for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. We must act now to protect both,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
Heading into New Year's Eve weekend, health officials are asking Austinites to be COVID conscious of how they celebrate. They point to kids returning back to school soon and that early data indicates the omicron variant poses a dangerous risk to a younger population.
“As we get closer to the New Year celebration, I encourage everyone to follow the Stage 4 guidelines and mask up when recommended. These small preventive measures will go a long way when it comes to keeping our entire community safe," Travis County Judge Andy Brown said.
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- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
- Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."