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Austin Leaders Recommend Masks Until After Spring Break, SXSW — Here’s What a TMA Doctor Says

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 2 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines Friday, which means people who are up to date on their vaccines can ditch their masks even indoors. The move comes just a couple weeks before schools hit spring break and one week before Austin hosts South by Southwest.

That means many people will be traveling in and out of Central Texas over the next few weeks; and despite the move to the lower stage, some leaders are asking people to continue wearing their mask until those big events are done.

“Thousands of people will travel to and through Austin-Travis County in the coming weeks for the Spring Festival Season and spring break. With these unique circumstances in mind, APH recommends that our communities wear masks indoors, especially when social distancing is not possible, until March 20, 2022,” said Adrienne Sturrup, Austin Public Health director. 

No masks required: Austin-Travis County moves to Stage 2 COVID-19 guidelines

That sentiment was echoed by Austin Mayor Steve Adler who asked people to mask until the end of SXSW which draws hundreds of thousands of people.

But the move to Stage 2 also matches new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations surrounding masking. That update allowed most Americans to ditch masks and many school districts to no longer recommend universal masking.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: CDC loosens mask guidance — will Austin Public Health, AISD follow?

While health leaders are recommending some continued masking, Dr. Ogechika Alozie, a member of the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force, says we have a wall of immunity right now, and that wall of immunity should provide some protection over the next six months.

“I really, truly do believe that those that are protected either by a virus or by vaccine don’t have a lot to be worried about going forward,” Alozie said. “The whole conversation about will a concert, or will a show trigger spread, we’ve been having that for up to six months, no evidence that that’s what’s driving the spread.”

He also noted that for people who are high-risk or that want to wear a mask, they do protect the wearer against COVID-19.

While Travis County is listed by the CDC as low risk, there are other counties around the country that have higher transmission.

If you’re traveling for spring break, you can find the risk levels for your destination using the CDC County Check tool:

CDC leaders announced in late February that risk would be determined by three metrics: new hospitalizations for COVID-19, current hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and new COVID-19 cases.

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