AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health (APH) is issuing a warning to Austin-Travis County residents as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
APH said cases are increasing locally as two new omicron subvariants have been detected in Travis County: Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
"Austin Public Health 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," a press release from Austin Public Health said. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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."
As of Friday, Austin Public Health said new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days is 174.81. Travis County’s community level, which is the guide for COVID-19 recommendations, is listed as low. If this metric reaches 200, the community level in Austin-Travis County will move to medium.
On top of these subvariants, the agency is concerned about declining immunity in the community. So, leaders are pushing residents to get vaccinated, boosted and wear masks when social distancing is not 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.
Children 5 and older are eligible for a booster now, and people over 50 are eligible for the second round of booster shots.
APH encourages testing before and after gatherings, especially if you plan to be in close contact with people who are at risk. You can order a third round of free mail-order COVID-19 test kits through the federal government. You can also pick up free rapid antigen tests at APH's Metz Elementary School testing site.
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