ASL Stage 5 - Austin/Travis County

Due to this ongoing worsening condition and the uncontrolled widespread community transmission of covid-19, we aregoing to be elevating our community risk level to stage 5, which is our highest level of risk for a community.

So what does that mean for us in the community? It's not just protocols, it's not just instructions for businesses and restaurants. It gives us an idea of the risk as individuals that we may face when we are outside of our household. And it's important to understand that that risk is significant. In this stage 5 it means that there's so much community transmission going on, that literally anywhere we go outside of our household, we have to consider ourselves at risk. And quite frankly, we're not seeing transmission amongst strangers. We're seeing transmission amongst people who know one another, members of extended family, friends. Those are happening because those are the individuals that we're willing to take our masks off in front of.

So for stage 5 we're recommending that everybody, regardless of their risk level, avoid non-household gatherings. We're advising them to avoid dining and shopping and to transition to takeaway and delivery as much as possible. It's important to avoid nonessential travel for gatherings or for other things outside if you don't have to. And again, we're recommending businesses transition to that curbside or delivery model as the primary method of their business.

All along we've tried to balance the economic health and the public health and unfortunately what we're experiencing right now is significant imbalance. We're seeing a significant increase and a rapid increase in that risk to public health.

You know, some people will ask why are we sounding the alarm right now? Why not wait until the hospitals are full? And to them I ask this question: When you see smoke do you pull the alarm, do you call the fire department or do you wait for the flames to roll down the hallway? What we've learned over and over again in other communities in Texas, across the country and across the world: if you wait to pull the alarm until the hospitals are already full, that surge will continue until the hospitals and the morgues are overwhelmed, and we simply cannot afford that in Austin and Travis county.

It's important to remember that the time to act is now. It's not in two weeks, it's not in four weeks, it's today. And we're calling on people to be heroes. To save lives this Christmas season. And it's critical to understand that it takes all of us, all of us working together, all of us making the simple decision to stay home when we can, and if we have to go out, to wear a mask, to distance and ensure we're washing our hands and not touching our faces. Together we can get through this but it is going to take all of us.