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Austin Public Health Urges People Who Gathered For Thanksgiving To Get Tested And Stay Home

Austin public health officials are asking people who traveled for the holiday or celebrated Thanksgiving indoors with people from outside their household to stay home for a week and get tested for COVID-19 within the next few days.

"It is critically important that everyone do their part to combat COVID-19 by avoiding gatherings and travel this holiday season," Stephanie Hayden, Austin Public Health director, said in an emailed statement. "Those who have already gathered or traveled need to make sure that they take the proper precautions to stay safe."

As of Wednesday, there were 2,559 active COVID-19 cases in Travis County, and 48 people with the virus were on ventilators at area hospitals.

Public health officials are asking people to wait at least three to five days to get tested, since the virus can take several days to infect someone. The health authority says it has plenty of capacity for those looking for free COVID-19 tests, including walk-up testing. Because of the holiday, though, the only public test site open Friday is at the Ana Lark Center at 1400 Tillery St., which is open until 2 p.m.

If you don’t get tested, the health authority is asking that you stay home for two weeks.

The City of Austin moved to stage 4 of its coronavirus risk guidelines last week after an uptick in hospitalizations and positive cases. While the guidelines are simply recommendations, the Austin-Travis County Health Authority is asking that people avoid meeting in groups of more than 10 people and that businesses lower capacity to 50% or below.

With December holidays just weeks away, public health officials are asking residents to be especially vigilant.

“If people still plan to travel despite public health risk guidance, they should consider the 3 'C's; wear a face Covering, avoid Crowds, and decrease your time in Confined areas,” Janet Pichette, chief epidemiologist for Austin-Travis County, said in an emailed statement. “We must do our part in the community to keep our families and each other safe.”

Got a tip? Email Audrey McGlinchy at audrey@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.

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Audrey McGlinchy is the City Hall reporter at KUT, covering the Austin City Council and the policies they discuss. She comes to Texas from Brooklyn, where she tried her hand at publishing, public relations and nannying. Audrey holds English and journalism degrees from Wesleyan University and the City University of New York. She got her start in journalism as an intern at KUT Radio during a summer break from graduate school. While completing her master's degree in New York City, she interned at the New York Times Magazine and Guernica Magazine.