Community spread of COVID-19 remains high; guidance for individuals, businesses, and organizations
Austin, Texas – On Wednesday, July 29, Austin-Travis County passed the 20,000 COVID-19 total case mark. The City of Austin and Travis County health officials warn that COVID-19 is still very active in the community and recommend people to continue to take precautions to keep themselves, their family, and their community safe.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We must continue to take the same precautions we have been encouraging throughout this crisis: wash your hands, avoid nonessential trips outside the home, and if you do leave your home, social distance and wear a face covering. Additionally, we want individuals who are showing COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone who was positive, or who is medically vulnerable to get tested.”
A significant amount of information and guidance has been shared in recent weeks for businesses, organizations, and individuals to follow. The sections below outline resources related to different direction and orders that are current as of July 30.
Though certain activities and behaviors are currently not restricted under local or state orders, Austin Public Health (APH) strongly encourages individuals to limit their activities outside of the home in order to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.
“Continue to stay home when you can,” said Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health Director. “It is especially critical to stay home when waiting for your COVID-19 test results, especially if you feel sick. Staying home helps keep the community safe by lowering the risk that you will accidentally spread the virus before you know you have it.”
Resources, information, and current orders can be found below:
There are currently City orders, County orders, and health authority rules in place locally.
Additionally, the City and County must follow orders from the Texas Governor. Those orders can be found at gov.texas.gov/coronavirus-executive-orders.
All of the current and previous COVID-19 orders and rules can be found at austintexas.gov/COVID19 under the “Control Orders and Emergency Rules” heading.
Current health authority rules include information about requirements for businesses to follow. Additionally, a newsletter was recently sent to businesses with additional resources, collateral, and information that will help them make safe and healthy decisions for their business and employees. Up-to-date information about COVID-19 and how it can impact businesses and industries can be found on the Business and Industry page of the COVID-19 website.
As a reminder, businesses need to allow employees to self-isolate as soon as the employee suspects they are COVID-19-positive. APH has been distributing letters to individuals who are tested to share with their employers that contain a testing notice and information about employer requirements and recommendations. Both letters are also available in Spanish: testing notice; employer requirements.
The Austin-Travis County Health Authority recently released orders on school reopening. Individual schools and districts will be able to make decisions on reopening methods and timelines within the framework of the orders. Please contact schools or school districts directly with questions about their opening plans.
Child care facilities
Part of the current health authority rules outlines specific requirements for child care facilities. Guidance for the facilities is available in both English and Spanish. In general, child care facilities can operate with some restrictions to keep staff, children, and parents safe. More information about child care facilities can be found in the "Guidance for Childcare Providers and Schools" section of the Businesses and Industries page of the COVID-19 site.
Changes to permissible gatherings have had significant impacts on the special events and creative sector industries. Details on how the state and Austin-Travis County Orders impact event business operations can be found on the Special Events Impacts COVID-19 page.
Part of the current health authority rules outlines specific requirements for construction sites. Specific collateral has also been created for construction sites, such as flyers and information material. Those materials can be found in the "Guidance for the Construction Industry" section of the Businesses and Industries page of the COVID-19 website.
Individual behavior and activities
The risk-based guidelines chart outlines recommended behavior for individuals at different stages of community spread. Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 4, but could move to Stage 5 if there were a rapid increase in daily hospitalizations. No matter what risk level stage we are in, people should continue to take as many protective actions as is feasible to prevent a second wave of transmissions and hospitalizations.
Wearing a face covering or mask in public is important to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. When properly used, in combination with social distancing, it steeply decreases the chances of spreading the virus. A tutorial on how to properly wear a face covering can be found here.
Testing sites and information
The City of Austin manages several testing sites across Austin and Travis County. Individuals can sign up for an assessment to see if they qualify for a free test at covid19.austintexas.gov; if they do not have access to the internet, they can call the APH nurse hotline at 512-972-5560 to complete an assessment.
There are other ways to get tested beside through the City of Austin -- individuals with insurance should call their doctor or insurance company to review their options, and CommUnityCare also offers free testing to those without insurance.
Individuals who are not able to leave their homes for an assessment can also call the APH nurse hotline to request an in-home test.
Information in Spanish
Much of the information in this release, as well as additional COVID-19 details and information, is available in Spanish at austintexas.gov/covid19-sp. This information is consistently updated to reflect current rules and regulations.
For more information about COVID-19, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.