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What's the difference between Stage 3 and Stage 4 in Austin?

New hospital admissions is one of the most important indicators for moving to different stages. In Stage 4, Austin-Travis County recommends everyone wear a mask

AUSTIN, Texas — After moving to Stage 3 of Austin’s COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, you might be wondering what could trigger stricter restrictions in Central Texas.

Austin Public Health Medical Director Dr. Desmar Walkes told KVUE earlier this month that the county is monitoring the seven-day moving averages for new cases, new hospital admissions and the county’s positivity rate.

The primary indicator is the new hospital admissions. If this number rises or falls into the guidelines for a different stage, this triggers a conversation about moving to a new stage. 

RELATED: LIST: COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Austin from July 15 to July 18

For Stage 4, the seven-day moving average for new hospitalizations must be between 30 and 50-90, depending on “the rate of increase," according to APH's website.

Credit: KVUE
The 7-day moving average of new hospital admissions due to COVID-19 in Austin as of Thursday, July 15.

For Stage 3, the seven-day moving average for new hospitalizations must be between 15 and 29. On Thursday, July 15, the seven-day average for new hospital admissions was 22. However, that number has been higher than 15 since Sunday, July 10.

If Austin moves to Stage 4, APH recommends everyone wear a mask, even if they’re fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people are recommended to not attend any private gatherings. The risk-based guidelines also advise unvaccinated individuals not to go out to eat, go shopping or travel unless it's essential.

Credit: KVUE
When vaccinated and unvaccinated are recommended to wear a mask in Stage 4 of Austin-Travis County's COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

The seven-day moving average for daily new cases in Austin was 94 on Thursday. The seven-day moving average for current hospitalizations was 116.

The county’s positivity rate as of Sunday, July 10 was 6.6%.

To go back down to Stage 2, that seven-day moving average for new hospitalizations would need to fall between five and 14.

The only difference between Stages 2 and 3 is that high-risk individuals should avoid private gatherings, traveling, going out to eat and even going shopping if they can.  

Credit: KVUE
When vaccinated and unvaccinated are recommended to wear a mask in Stage 3 of Austin-Travis County's COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

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