New University of Texas models recommend immediate restrictions in Austin to prevent overwhelmed hospitals
Without significant behavior and policy changes, Austin-area hospitals will reach capacity in mid-July, according to updated projections by the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin.
"Right now it seems like we should be doing everything we can—short of a stay-home order—to stop transmission," Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers told Austin City Council members on Monday. "We're at that point."
An evolving guide
Austin Public Health issued a color-coded, five-stage guide to policy recommendations in mid-May. The thresholds between stages are based on the rolling average of new daily hospital admissions for COVID patients. The recommendations ranged from limiting social gatherings to returning to "Stay Home-Work Safe" conditions.
(Austin Public Health)
This week, APH updated its thresholds to account for adjusted hospital capacity and average hospital stay, which is currently about nine days. "By changing the threshold triggers, the community is able to remain in Stage 4 for a longer period of time before crossing into Stage 5," APH said in a statement.
The new stage thresholds are as follows:
The updated guidelines increase the threshold for Stage 2 from a rolling average of 5 new daily COVID-related hospital admissions to 10, Stage 3 from 19 to 39 and Stage 4 from 20 to 40.
While local officials are unable to implement policies that interfere with state orders, Dr. Meyers presented a series of scenarios that project how different policy interventions might play out.
"It's very hard to project what COVID is going to do beyond a couple weeks because we cannot predict behavior, and we cannot predict policy," she said.
The scenarios project with 95% certainty that area hospitals will not exceed capacity—a total of 1,500 COVID-19 patients—if certain measures are taken. While the interventions vary, each scenario is expected to result in 2,100 total deaths between now and the end of 2021. The difference between them is the duration, timing and extent of the shutdown.
1. In the first scenario, Austin officials would implement the policy changes recommended at Stage 4 of APH's risk-based guide, which Dr. Meyers helped develop.
Dr. Meyers presented this scenario, which presumes partial measures are taken now to contain the current surge.(COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin)
If people comply—wearing masks, limiting social gatherings and minimizing unnecessary trips outside of their homes—the projections suggest that hospitals will not exceed capacity, Stage 5 will never be reached and by December the curve will begin to flatten.
If such precautions are not taken and adhered to, Austin will escalate to Stage 5, at which point partial measures will not be enough and a second stay-home order is recommended.
2. In this second scenario, Austin would likely see a series of stay-home orders issued between now and early next year to avoid exceeding hospital capacity.
In the second scenario, the current surge forces a second shutdown order—and then a series of additional shutdowns—to avoid overwhelming local hospital capacity.(COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin)
"That's pretty bleak," Dr. Meyers said. "It's several months of periodic stay home."
3. In the third scenario, Dr. Meyers and her team modeled what would happen if local officials don't implement policy changes immediately, but in mid-July issue a five-week stay-home order in an attempt to slow transmission of COVID-19.
The final scenarios projects the outcome if a five-week shutdown is implemented now, which would prompt a three-month period in Stage 4. (COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin)
Following the five-week period, the projection is that Austin would enter Stage 4 for three months, during which time schools would reopen.
"The only scenario I think that would be really, really impossible to have any schooling would be if we're in [Stage 5]," Dr. Meyers said, adding that at Stage 4 there would still need to be some "pretty extreme" measures in place to ensure transmission isn't escalating.
- COVID-19 'does spread silently' as Austin hits record high - austonia ›
- Austin hospitalizations trigger stage 4 risk - austonia ›
- Less distancing may come at 'substantial cost' in lives, UT COVID ... ›
- Is Austin flattening the COVID curve? - austonia ›
- Austin prepares for surge in deaths - austonia ›
- Austin COVID hospitalizations decline, but risk level remains - austonia ›
- FBI: China may be trying to steal UT-Austin's COVID research - austonia ›
- Longhorns fans will mask up at home games University of Texas - austonia ›
- UT Austin debuts new hologram program amid pandemic - austonia ›
- The names behind the Joe Rogan podcast studio - austonia ›
- Joe Rogan teases new Texas podcast studio; locals say it's a home ... ›
- joe-rogan - austonia ›
- UPDATED 8/9 Joe Rogan says he's moving to Texas 'soon' - austonia ›
- UPDATED 8/9 Will Joe Rogan move his $100 million podcast to ... ›
- Joe Rogan posts podcast studio as he makes move to Austin ... ›
- UPDATED 8/9 Joe Rogan moving to Austin, Texas next month says ... ›
- EXCLUSIVE: Joe Rogan teases new Texas podcast studio; locals ... ›
- The names behind the Joe Rogan podcast studio - austonia ›
- Could a presidential debate be led by Joe Rogan in Austin? - austonia ›
- 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 2 oz cloudy apple juice
- 1/2 oz ginger syrup
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 4 ginger slices, muddled
On Saturday, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock to face off against Texas Tech in the Big 12 season opener for both teams.
- UT Longhorns season starts 9/26 vs. Texas Tech Raiders: Big 12 ... ›
- Excitement, tensions build as Austin expects 18k fans at first Texas ... ›
In addition to voting for president, members of Congress and Austin City Council this Nov. 3., local voters will find two propositions at the bottom of their ballot with both addressing mobility issues in the city of Austin.
No city is perfect, but if we're just talking about looks, Austin—with its lush green nature spots and lakes—is pretty spectacular. Here's a look at what makes Austin the perfect place to "staycation."
Author and University of Texas professor Brené Brown signed a deal with Spotify for the platform rights to her new podcast "Dare to Lead," available Oct. 19.
Barton Springs and Deep Eddy pools will reopen this Saturday on a modified schedule after being closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces loosening of COVID restrictions ... ›
- Up next: gyms, yoga studios weigh cost of reopening - austonia ›
- 'Cooped-up' Texans visit McKinney Falls on first day of reopening ... ›
- Austin closes Barton Springs and Deep Eddy - austonia ›