TRAVIS COUNTY – The emergence of four confirmed cases of an extremely infectious mutated strain referred to as Delta variant compelled Health authorities to revert the county back under an alarming level of safety against the coronavirus disease.
From Stage 1, the Austin-Travis County health authorities placed the area one level up of the Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines.
With Travis County now under less safe Stage 3, Austin’s top health official Dr Desmar Walkes underscored the need for the government to ramp up vaccination, which he claimed as the most potent weapon against the continuing rampage of the communicable disease.
The decision came as an offshoot of figures which tend to show a seven-day average pegged at 22 cases as compared to two which was recorded on July 2 – narrowly missing its target of entering the safest level, Stage 1.
Aside from the daily infection tallies, the government has been largely considering numbers equating to hospital admissions to determine the appropriate risk level for a given area of concern. As of press time, the daily average for fresh cases stood at 94 which is three times more than the figure posted at the start of July.
“This has to stop and we know how to make that happen,” said Dr Walkes even as he hinted at a widening gap representing the ratio of healthcare workers in the hospital as compared to the swarming number of incoming patients wanting to be treated for respiratory ailments and probable cases of infection of the highly infectious mutated COVID-19 strain.
Interestingly, the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to consider another variant referred to as “Delta-Plus” as a variant of concern.
With Dr Walkes during the announcement of the pandemic progress were Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Travis County Judge Andy Brown and interim Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup.
Mayor Adler in a statement said: “We cannot pretend we are done with a virus that is not done with us. Almost everyone in our hospitals right now, in our ICUs right now are people who have not been vaccinated.”
Earlier reports in the Austin area had 152 people in the hospital, 49 were inside the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and 23 patients on ventilators over medical conditions believed to be COVID-19.
Likewise on the radar of the health authorities is the increasing number of pediatric cases of COVID-19.
But even after the government announcement reverting back Travis County under Stage 3, health officials could only do as much as reminding the public [vaccinated or otherwise] on the importance to be protected against a far more vicious coronavirus strain, as the prerogative on whether or not to wear protective face masks now depends on one’s judgment call – especially outdoors.
For Travis County residents who are fully vaccinated, health officials will continue to leave the choice of masking up to their discretion, unless businesses in the area begin requiring them again.
Austin Public Health’s guidelines embark on a five-tier level with Stage 1 as the safest and Stage 5 as the most critical.
“The best thing to do still is to get vaccinated. That’s the way to keep our community safe. That’s the way to protect against the delta variant and whatever other variants are coming out there. So, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, it’s not too late to do so,” added Judge Brown in a separate statement.