Preventive measures recommended as additional subvariants emerge
AUSTIN, Texas – COVID-19 cases are increasing locally as two new omicron subvariants have been detected in Travis County. These factors combined with declining immunity warrant getting vaccinated, boosted and wearing masks in some circumstances when social distancing isn’t possible.
“These rising numbers and new subvariants are very concerning, especially at a time when many will be traveling and gathering with loved ones,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We need everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, especially children who are now eligible for boosters. Masks also provide an extra layer of protection for yourself and others.”
Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are confirmed in Travis County. Austin Public Health (APH) epidemiologists report that BA.2 currently accounts for most infections in Austin and Travis County, but BA.4 and BA.5 have proven more transmissible abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports these two subvariants (aggregated and listed as B1.1.529) now account for more than 6% of cases nationwide. People who are at risk of serious illness should get up to date with COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
Travis County’s Community Level is listed as low. As of Friday, new COVID-19 cases per 100k population in the last 7 days is 174.81. If this metric reaches 200, our Community Level moves to medium.
“APH staff members are working hard to provide the tests and vaccines necessary to keep our community safe and control the spread of COVID-19,” said Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Come by one of our clinics to get up to date with your vaccines, get tested at Metz Elementary if you feel a sniffle, and continue to follow the guidance that we know works.”
Expanded Booster Eligibility
Everyone 5 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose. Children 5-11 are eligible five months after completing their primary vaccine series. Everyone 50 and older is eligible for a second booster dose at least four months after their first booster.
Free N95 respirators
Check with your local pharmacy (H-E-B, CVS, Walgreens) about free N95 respirators. You can also use a feature on the CDC’s website to find a location offering free N95 masks near you.
Free COVID-19 tests
APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with individuals who are at risk. A third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits are available through the federal government. You can also pick up free rapid antigen tests at APH's Metz Elementary testing site.
APH testing and vaccination information
APH clinics offer COVID-19 testing and vaccinations without an appointment, although creating an account online in advance saves time. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and require neither identification nor insurance. For more information and to schedule an appointment, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 or visit www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.
The APH Mobile Vaccination Program brings vaccine clinics to businesses, churches and more. APH is asking all organizations to fill out an online form to request a pop-up clinic.
Austin Public Health is the health department for the City of Austin and Travis County. Austin Public Health works to prevent disease, promote health and protect the well-being of all by monitoring and preventing infectious diseases and environmental threats and educating about the benefits of preventative behaviors to avoid chronic diseases and improve health outcomes.