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Austin returns to Stage 3 of COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase

But the stricter guidelines for unvaccinated residents can't be legally enforced since Gov. Greg Abbott banned pandemic mandates in May.

AUSTIN, Texas — As COVID-19 cases in Austin and Travis County rise, leaders have updated the area's risk-based guidelines.

Leaders announced Austin and Travis County are returning to Stage 3 of the guidelines due to the four confirmed cases of the delta variant and a "dramatic increase in COVID cases we’ve seen in past few days."

According to Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority, the seven-day average for new cases has tripled from 30 to almost 90. The seven-day moving average for hospital admissions went from 7 to 20-21.  

"This has to stop," Walkes said.

LIVE: Austin, Travis County leaders give COVID-19 update | 4 delta variant cases confirmed

According to Austin and Travis County's COVID-19 dashboard, the area's seven-day moving average of new cases is 81 as of July 14. ICU capacity in the Austin area is also strained, leaders said.

Under Stage 3, those who are high risk should avoid being indoors in poorly ventilated areas and avoid travel and crowds. If they have to be in these situations, they should wear a mask.

About 30% of eligible people in Austin-Travis County have not gotten the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

At a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting this week, leaders said a total of 333 confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus in Travis County so far in 2021 have been from fully vaccinated individuals. Austin Public Health Medical Director Dr. Desmar Walkes said this shows just how important vaccinations are.

"I hate that we are here together again at a press conference talking about the virus," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "I hoped I would not be in front of you again talking about a rise in COVID cases."  

Austin and Travis County were most recently under Stage Two of the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines when vaccinations were not as widely available. Under Stage 2, those that were at low risk of contracting the virus were advised to avoid gatherings greater than 25 people. Those who were high risk were advised to avoid gatherings greater than 10 and avoid dining and shopping unless it's essential.

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