Your daily dose of Austin
Smartphone image
×
Make your inbox more Austin.
Local news and fun, every day 6am.
Abbott suspends elective surgeries in Austin, pauses Texas reopening as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rise
Austin-area hospitals have seen an increase in admissions. (Travis County COVID-19 dashboard)

Amid what he called a "massive outbreak" of new COVID-19 cases. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order suspending elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties.


"These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today's action is a precautionary step to ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients," Abbott said in a statement issued this morning.

All hospitals in these areas are directed to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary.

Abbott implemented the same order earlier in the pandemic, which freed up hospital capacity but also led to a sharp drop in revenue for providers and 1,200 layoffs at Baylor Scott & White Health.

Austin's hospital capacity

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Travis County could see its caseload double in the next 18 days and area hospital capacity overwhelmed by mid-July at a virtual press conference yesterday.

Unless the rising curve of COVID cases is not flattened soon, Dr. Escott said he would have to recommend a second shutdown to local elected officials.

Austin's three major hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare—issued a joint statement Wednesday, before the governor's order.

The three hospital systems have 2,470 staffed beds, 71% of which were occupied as of Wednesday night; together they also have 483 ICU beds, 70% of which were occupied.

The surge plan

The systems can increase their total bed capacity to 3,250 beds, but "it would require staffing that exceeds what we typically have available for daily operations," per the statement.

The city released a three-stage surge plan in early April, which includes establishing additional hospital beds.

Although the city has not identified where field hospitals may be, local physicians said that hospitals have been planning for such a contingency for months.

"We do not want to provide care for you at the Austin Convention Center," Dr. Kirsten Nieto, an internal medicine and pediatric hospitalist at Dell Children's and Dell Seton, said at yesterday's press conference. "We want you to stay home."

Reopening

Abbott also announced Thursday that he is temporarily pausing the state's reopening.

"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses," he said in a separate statement. "This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business."

This pause does not change any previous developments, which include allowing restaurants to increase capacity to 75% and amusement parks to reopen.

This article has been updated with the announcement about pausing the reopening process.

Popular

When Mach .925 is not enough: Elon Musk to upgrade his Gulfstream private jet

(Gulfstream)

Elon Musk has placed an order for a new, top-of-the-line private jet: a Gulfstream G700, Austonia has learned. Delivery is expected in early 2023.

Keep ReadingShow less
Valencia Hotel Group Presents Live Music & Longnecks - All Summer Long

(Valencia Hotel Group)

Live music and beer? Say no more. With a location in Austin, and others throughout Texas, the court hotels by the Valencia Hotel Group have a new offering for weekend stays: Live Music & Longnecks.

Enjoy live music all weekend long and check out the hotels’ state-of-the-art amenities between sets. Make a splash in the pool, enjoy outdoor fire pits, or challenge your friends in a yard game while enjoying a weekend full of live music! Did we mention the package includes deluxe accommodations and a bucket of beer? Oh, and if you needed more convincing, this pet-friendly hotel means the whole family can join in on the fun.

Keep ReadingShow less