Austin has edged past the threshold determined by health authorities and city officials to be the key indicator of a surge in coronavirus cases and the trigger to pull back on reopening.


On Sunday, Austin Public Health reported 30 new COVID-related hospital admissions, bringing the seven-day rolling average up to 20.6.

The hospitalizations threshold

"We have very carefully calibrated what we believe is the right moment for us as a community to discuss pulling back so that we would not overrun our hospital capacity, and that right moment is the trigger of 20," former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said during a virtual news conference last week.

(city of Austin)


This follows a sharp increase in cases that Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott attributed to the state's ongoing reopening and Memorial Day festivities.

City officials said there is currently plenty of bed space but that such an uptick in new daily hospital admissions could jeopardize hospital capacity.

"At this point, our blinking yellow warning light is turning orange, which means our hospitals seem to be headed to an overwhelming surge in admissions," Austin Mayor Steve Adler wrote in an email update Sunday. "We have some decisions to make and trade-offs to consider as we approach the red zone."

According to APH's five-stage alert system, the Austin metro area is exiting stage 3 and entering stage 4—the point at which experts recommend more restrictions in order to limit community spread and avoid overwhelming hospitals.

The city and the state

Although it remains unclear how the state will respond to this surge, local officials have said they would intervene by recommending residents limit social gatherings, avoid nonessential trips outside the home and limit those trips they do take to essential businesses only.

"If we do reach that threshold, we are going to have to have more serious conversations with the state," Dr. Escott said last week.

Eckhardt added, however, that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has stripped most local governments of their ability to enforce pandemic-related restrictions.

COVID-19 caseloads and hospitalizations are not only increasing in Central Texas but across the state. But Abbott said Friday that there's "no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses," in part because of the available hospital capacity.

Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, the director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas, helped local health officials develop the five-stage alert system.

In an interview last week, she told Austonia: "That's the reason for the staging, so that we can tap on the brakes and not have to slam on the breaks."

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
(Realtor.com)

The pre-renovated backyard of the Rogan house on Lake Austin.

Austin-based podcast host Joe Rogan, recently called one of the most influential media personalities in the country, paid at least $14.4 million for the luxury lake house he's now living in on Lake Austin, according to local real estate sources and a report by Variety magazine.
Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 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
Directions: Muddle ginger slices in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and strain into a glass over fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Texas Longhorns will face off with the Texas Tech Raiders this Saturday.

On Saturday, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock to face off against Texas Tech in the Big 12 season opener for both teams.

Keep Reading Show less

The November election is among us and here's what you need to know about propositions on the ballot.

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.

Keep Reading Show less

(Steven Joyner)

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."

Keep Reading Show less
(Photo by Maile Wilson)

Brené Brown is on to her next project, a podcast signed with Spotify.

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.

Keep Reading Show less
(Austonia staff)

Barton Springs pool will reopen on Saturday after being closed since late June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Keep Reading Show less