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12 delta variant cases confirmed in Travis County as local health leaders begin discussions on mass casualty planning

Officials said about 17% of the people in ICUs are under the age of 30.

AUSTIN, Texas — A total of 12 cases of the delta variant have now been confirmed in Travis County as local health officials say they have begun discussions on mass casualty planning.

City of Austin Medical Director and Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes made the announcement in a virtual meeting with the Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue a rapid spread, particularly among the unvaccinated younger populations.

Local health officials say talks are still in the early phases in regard to establishing alternate care sights should hospitals become overwhelmed. Should the need arise, officials told KVUE it is unlikely the Austin Convention Center would be re-established as an alternate care sight and instead they would look into a smaller venue.

According to Dr. Walkes, of the 690,000 people who are now fully vaccinated in the county since Jan. 1, just 623 (0.09%) have tested positive.

Austin currently remains in Stage 4 of its risk-based guidelines for COVID-19 response.

The area will move to Stage 5 if the seven-day moving average of hospitalizations reaches 50, and will move back to Stage 4 when it is below 30. According to the City of Austin COVID-19 dashboard, that seven-day average is now at 42.

As of Tuesday, a total of 87,946 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Travis County, with 85,233 recoveries. Of those cases, 1,816 are currently active and a total of 897 deaths have occurred. As of Tuesday, 292 people are currently hospitalized in Travis County, with 103 people in the ICU and 59 on ventilators. 

Local officials said that about 17% of the people currently in ICUs are under the age of 30.

Under Stage 4, APH recommends everyone wear a mask, even if they’re fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask when participating in indoor private gatherings, traveling and dining or shopping and should wear a mask for outdoor gatherings if they are unable to socially distance. Partially or unvaccinated individuals should avoid private gatherings, travel, dining and shopping unless essential and should wear a mask when conducting essential activities.

As of Tuesday, these guidelines are not enforceable, except by individual private businesses. An executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott prevents local face mask mandates and he remains firm on preventing any additional shutdowns.

Also on Tuesday, the CDC reversed course and now recommends vaccinated people start wearing masks indoors again in parts of the nation where cases are experiencing a surge.

To view Austin Public Health's Tuesday PowerPoint, click here.

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