AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin Public Health officials said on Wednesday that they will “lower the threshold” for COVID-19 testing to allow asymptomatic people to be tested at its sites again.
Dr. Mark Escott, the area’s temporary health authority, said there are plenty of test options available, and they see a reduction in people signing up for tests on the agency’s websites.
People can take the health screening and be referred to a test site on APH’s website.
But there was little about news from Dr. Escott.
Dr. Escott told Travis County commissioners on Tuesday that local COVID-19 cases are on the verge of collapse, and while reviewing it for the press conference, he said people have “hit a wall.”
“We have to push through this plateau as we see it,” said Dr. Escott. “We have had this big run over the last two weeks with a rapid decline in cases thanks to the proactive measures that people have taken.”
APH director Stephanie Hayden said they see more cases in connection with family gatherings and other parties, and she reminded people not to let their guards go now.
“We really need social distances and even wear masks around the family,” Hayden said. “We have to keep our guards up with them too.”
With the small increase in active cases, Dr. Escott that it is good that intensive care units are now out of surge protocols, which means that there is now a normal relationship between nurses and patients.
Mean hospital admissions are still in the Phase 3 range, less than 40 over a seven-day rolling period, but officials are choosing to keep the range in Step 4 as they hope to see a further reduction in admissions.
There has been a further improvement in test result twists as well, said Dr. Escott. He said there is a reduction in demand, the number of people registering for test sites in the area and better capacity in labs. The test results from the APH websites will now return in 1-2 days, rather than 3-5 days or even a week to 10 days.
Back to school goals
Dr Escott said he wants the area to be at level 2 levels, less than 10 new hospital admissions during a rolling seven-day period, when schools open. While the Austin Independent School District began voting on Thursday to delay the start of online learning until September 8, and not even open its door to personal learning until potentially November, it will give people more time to run down the key indicators health officials are looking at. .
He also wants the degree of positivity to be below 5% when the children are back in school.
“School districts need to be prepared for the fact that at certain stages, especially in the fall, schools may have to close again,” he said, “and that means having a standard accessibility for all virtual so we have that continuity in education.”
He said the recommendation, no matter what stage the area is in, will be for schools to open with 25% capacity.
With the Austin Parks and Recreation Department set to reopen Bull Creek and Barton Creek greenbelts on August 8, there is no other update on reopening the currently closed parks, golf courses and other public affairs. Escott sa.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation has done a great job of creating processes to ensure that when the green belts open, they do it safely,” Dr. Escott. “I know people want to get back on the tennis courts and golf courses, we want them to too … But we do not want to take risks right now when we switch between stage 3 and stage 4. When we see a solid two-week period in stage 3, then we can reconsider that risk. “
Hayden said it will be a facade strategy when the city decides to open the rest of the public amenities, but “community health and safety always comes first.”