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'This is a real surge that's happening,' Escott says as positive COVID-19 test rates, hospitalizations in Austin rise

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he is raising a yellow flag as COVID-19 caseloads, hospitalizations and positive test rates rise following the state's reopening and Memorial Day activities—county health officials agreed.


"This is a real surge that's happening," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a virtual press conference this morning.

Over the last three days, Travis County has reported triple-digit growth in new cases. While the rolling average for new daily cases had been between around 40 and 60 cases, the average for the last three days has more than doubled, Dr. Escott said.

"Our concern is that this is a hockey stick appearance," he added, of the exponential growth.

Rising positive rates and hospitalizations

Austin Public Health has seen an uptick in its free testing service in the wake of recent protests and its related decision to expand access to asymptomatic residents. But Dr. Escott said the spike in cases is not merely reflective of expanded testing, as evidenced by the attendant increases in hospitalizations and positivity rate.

APH tests over the last week have returned positive results at a rate of 9.3%, where it had previously hovered around 5%. And yesterday the region saw a record number of new hospital admissions—24—bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 104.

These increases do not yet reflect cases related to recent protests against police brutality, Dr. Escott said, and instead are connected to testing conducted June 1-2.

Although the city has a surge plan in place and can expand its treatment capacity by building field hospitals, Adler said this is a scenario he hopes to avoid. "While we'll have beds, they're not the same kinds of beds [as those in hospitals]," he said. "People in those facilities don't get the same kind of care."

No second shutdown in sight

Despite these concerning trends, Dr. Escott emphasized the power of community response. Masking, practicing social distancing and maintaining good hygiene can help derail this surge.

In the meantime, local officials are not yet at the point of considering a second shutdown of businesses.

Health officials, with the help of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, have identified a rolling average of 20 new daily hospital admissions as a trigger point for intervention.

While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has restricted local governments in what enforceable actions they are able to take in the face of this pandemic, Dr. Escott and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said they are hopeful the state would support them should the hospitalization rate continue to increase.

"If we do reach that threshold, we are going to have to have more serious conversations with the state," Dr. Escott said, adding that every other major metropolitan area in Texas is seeing similar trends.

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway