After the recent update regarding our move to Phase 3 of our reopening plan, some questions came up around our progression forward with our opening when Austin Mayor Steve Adler is saying we are on the brink of moving into Stage 5, which puts the city in an essential only state like we saw late March/April. I wanted to take a moment to give some extra context and let everyone know our current plan should the city move into Stage 5. First a little more info on the city stuff.
The board has been following the COVID dashboards provided on the City of Austin’s website – COVID-19 Tracking Digital Dashboard and Key Indicators for Staging Dashboard. I have also been following Mayor Adler’s nightly “Got a Minute?” segments where he goes over the numbers and gives additional information about what’s going on as well as additional data and projections not available online. If you haven’t seen this segment and are interested, you can check it out on Facebook here or YouTube here.
For about a week or so, Adler has been warning that we are on the brink of Stage 5. If you look at the Key Indicators Dashboard showing when we move into Stage 5 without having heard Adler talk about it, it’s a bit confusing to understand. Here’s what that chart showing the current 7-day moving average on new hospital admissions looks like today:
You’ll notice on y-axis (left) that both Stage 4 and Stage 5 show a range for the max number of that stage. The reason for this is because of the influence the rate of growth has on our projections for hospital capacity. In Adler’s words, “If we go screaming up to 70, we will have to consider moving into Stage 5.” We can see that we were on that trajectory about a week ago and surpassed 70 for that 7-day average new daily admissions, but have plateaued and even decreased some in the past few days. This drastically changed what the current projections show for when we might reach max capacity on hospital beds, putting most projections (faded black lines in the graph below) staying below capacity much longer. (If you watch “Got a Minute?” segments from a few weeks ago, these projections showed us hitting capacity most likely by mid-July).
So despite the key indicators chart showing us in Stage 5 for a few days, we have actually remained in Stage 4 – Adler has not yet declared Stage 5 and is now paying closer attention to ICU capacity. Hopefully, we can stay this course and not have to enter into Stage 5 at all.
A few other city updates – The Austin City Council met on 7/9/20 and acted to allow for enforcing and increasing the fine for individual and business violations up to $2,000. You can view the latest orders here - Stay Home, Mask, And Otherwise Be Safe issued July 2, 2020
With consideration of the information provided by the city, ATXHS moved to Phase 3 of our Reopen Plan on 7/7/20. Some info on why we moved forward to this phase:
- Prior to allowing anyone in the space, we set stringent rules to ensure safety – requiring masks, distancing, sanitation, and scheduling to both limit numbers in the space and enable simple contact tracing. These measures we have in place and the strict adherence to them leaves us feeling confident that ATXHS is on the lower end of the risk spectrum. (Note: there is absolutely still risk and this statement is not meant to negate that fact).
- Current members have had ~1.5 months to get in, adjust to changes, and start using the space again.
- To date, we have plenty of availability in the Skedda schedule where the shop isn’t being utilized.
- With all the uncertainties members are facing personally, we continue getting cancellations and are currently below break even for the month of July. (Side note: we have a newly formed Finance Committee and hope to share more reports on our finances in the near future).
- We’ve had many people reaching out to get in line to join when able. These prospective members are coming in accepting all the new processes in place.
- We developed new processes for onboarding that allow us to minimize in-person contact.
The steps we’ve taken along the way with our reopening, and the incredible support of @safety who have been vital in our progress, is what allows us to keep the space safe and operating. That said, if Austin does end up moving to Stage 5, which allows for only essential businesses to remain open, we will have to adjust.
At our last board meeting on Wednesday 7/8/20, the board voted on what we would do should Austin enter Stage 5. At this time, our action would be to close immediately (given that we are not classified as an essential business), and convene a meeting of the board and Reopen Team within 48 hours to determine next steps. Hopefully, we will have more time to discuss and develop a strategy before the situation to act arises or even more preferably we hopefully just don’t ever enter Stage 5 and can continue our new *temporary* version of “business as usual”.
I hope all this provides some more clarity on where we’re at with the current situation. We are working hard to maintain balance of the gravity of this situation and the health of members, the space, and the broader community at large.
Stay well and keep hacking safely whatever that looks like for you!