Your daily dose of Austin
Smartphone image
×
Make your inbox more Austin.
Local news and fun, every day 6am.
Greg Abbott hospitals dell
(Charlie L. Harper III/Austonia)

Austin Public Health will work to determine if additional COVID-19 restrictions are warranted following a jump in the average number of daily hospital admissions and concerns about ICU capacity.


"If we're at that trigger point, then we expect that decision to be made in the next 24 hours," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said during a press conference Wednesday morning.

The county's seven-day moving average of daily hospital admissions leapt from 64.6 to 74.8, hours after local health officials said that, for several weeks, there have been more patients in hospitals with the coronavirus than reported.

Considering Stage 5

Surpassing 70 average daily hospitalizations puts the Austin area above the threshold for Stage 5 COVID-19 risk, according to APH guidelines, but local officials have so far held off on implementing any new restrictions.

Dr. Escott will meet with Austin's hospital executives and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin later today to decide if the current situation warrants a Stage 5 designation.

He said previously that if the average number of hospital admissions reaches 70, he would recommend a second shutdown to local elected officials—though they don't technically have the power to do so without the governor.

In the meantime, Dr. Escott urged Austinites to voluntarily stay home and reduce their social interactions by 90% as most did during the city's April shelter-in-place order.

"We want you to go back to those days," APH Director Stephanie Hayden said at the press conference.

Hospital capacity and personnel

Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare provided updated occupancy rates Tuesday evening. Collectively, the three hospital systems have 2,473 staffed beds, of which 76% are occupied. Of their collective 483 ICU beds, 85% are filled.

Sarah Eckhardt, special assistant to Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe, told the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday that the Austin Convention Center is being prepared as a field hospital.

Hospital CEOs raised concerns about ICU capacity during a phone call last week, Dr. Escott said, with the main issue being personnel.

"It doesn't do us much good if we have a bed and equipment without the staff," Dr. Escott told commissioners. "So we have to have the space, the stuff and the staff—all three things—in order to make a hospital bed work."

APH is working with the federal and state governments as well as independent contractors to increase staffing levels and allow for increased ICU capacity within area hospitals.

Austin, and the state of Texas, are facing a surge and will likely need to recruit nurses, physicians and other staff from around the country to meet demand.

"We saw a number of nurses and physicians from Texas going to New York when they were facing a surge," Dr. Escott said.

The COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas will provide updated projections, including about local ICU capacity, later today.

This article has been updated as more information was made available.


Want to read more stories like this one? Start every day with a quick look at what's happening in Austin. Sign up for Austonia.com's free daily morning email.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web

Popular

A mortgage banker walks us through the math on purchasing a 'mid-price' Austin home
Shutterstock

So you want to buy a house?

To anyone trying to get on the "housing ladder," it's been a discouraging couple of years as prices skyrocketed in a market crowded with buyers bidding against each other for just about any available home.

Things may be calming down, with the Austin Board of REALTORS reporting fewer sales and more available homes this summer.

Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, from around 3% to well over 6% on a 30-year fixed rate loan, getting even more of a bump this week after the Federal Reserve raised bank rates on Wednesday.

So how affordable are homes right now? That, of course, depends on what you want and how much you're able or willing to pay, but here are some rough estimates of what a typical buyer would pay to buy a $650,000 home, which would be considered "mid-price" in today's market.

Mortgage banker Chris Holland (NMLS 211033) of Austin's Sente Mortgage ran some numbers for Austonia to illustrate a typical purchase.

Keep ReadingShow less
Fall camping: Camp Fimfo Waco offers one-of-a-kind experiences in the heart of Texas
Camp Fimfo Waco

Camp Fimfo Waco, a brand new camping resort, is kicking off football and fall camping season in style! With top-notch amenities, premium accommodations, and 10 weekends of fall fun, there’s no better place to have a fall camping getaway, especially if you’re a Baylor football fan!

Keep ReadingShow less