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(Bob Daemmrich)

Barton Hills Elementary Principal Katie Achtermann checks in students for the second day of in-person classes last fall.

In light of new state and federal COVID-19 policies, Austin Public Health will debut a new School Saturdays vaccine program this weekend, focused on vaccinating school staff and childcare providers. Department officials also continued to stress the importance of masking and distancing given new variants, the low overall vaccine rate and the prospect of a third surge following spring break and the Easter holiday.

"It is effectively a moral imperative that people wear masks," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a press conference Friday.

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(Pexels)

Travis County is now in Stage 4 according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, and local officials have asked businesses to limit their capacity to at least 50% in an attempt to avoid the "catastrophic surge" seen in other Texas jurisdictions.

"None of us want to close businesses. None of us want to close schools," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a press conference on Thursday. "That is an absolute last resort for us."

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(Karen Brooks Harper)

With new COVID cases rising across Texas and the U.S., local health officials advised Austinites to take more precautions—and advocated for a possible rollback of restaurant capacity limits—to avoid another surge.

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(Pexels)

After raising concerns of a second surge last month, local health officials reported that the spread of COVID-19 in Austin is relatively flat—for now.

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