AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- Local health officials say they'll use the region's emergency messaging system this afternoon to remind residents of the COVID-19 situation ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Austin-Travis County officials say they'll send the message out using the Warn Central Texas notification system. Landline phones are automatically opted into the system; cell phones and email addresses can be voluntarily registered at www.WarnCentralTexas.org.
Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for Austin-Travis County, said the region is at a critical point with cases and hospitalizations rising across the state.
"I know we want to celebrate; I know we want to get together with our families; I know we want to do the things we normally do, but now is not the time for that," Escott said. "Now is the time we have to be strong together by only gathering within our own household."
Last week, health officials moved the area back to Stage 4 on Austin Public Health's COVID-19 risk-based guidelines. Stage 4 means that additional protective measures are recommended for people at higher risk, namely those aged over 65 or people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, obesity, or those who are otherwise immunocompromised.
Free COVID-19 testing through Austin Public Health remains available; individuals can take an assessment online and see if they need to be tested by visiting www.AustinTexas.gov/COVID19 and clicking the "take a self-assessment" button. All of Austin Public Health's COVID-19 test sites will be closed on Thanksgiving Day; the Ana Lark Center test site, located at 1400 Tillery Street, will be the only COVID-19 test site open on Friday.