Austin lowers COVID-19 positivity rate; concerns continue

AUSTIN ( -- Local health officials say Travis County has hit a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19, with the positivity rate dropping below the 5% mark - but they emphasize that the fight isn't over yet.

According to new data from Austin Public Health, the area-wide positivity rate is now down to 4.6% - a goal that officials were hoping to hit before schools began to increase in-person instruction after Labor Day.

"It’s slightly under that 5% mark we were aiming for before the opening of schools and I’m happy to say that we are there," Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, APH was reporting 745 active cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, with 122 patients in hospitals across the five county metro area. More than 27,000 confirmed cases have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, with just under 26,000 recovered and 399 deaths.

One sign of concern, Escott said, is a recent uptick in both hospitalizations and the positivity rate in the 10-19 age group - a group that historically has not seen high hospitalizations.

Escott also said hospitalizations in the Hispanic community are also trending downward, now accounting for just over 40% of those who are hospitalized.

"This is the lowest we've seen since the week beginning April 13th, so we're very excited about that," Escott said. "But our communities of color are still disproportionately represented in terms of hospitalizations."

Time will tell if Labor Day celebrations will lead to another bounce in COVID-19 cases. Escott said it could take 7-10 days to begin to see any impact from the holiday.