Abbott suspends elective surgeries in Austin, pauses Texas reopening as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rise
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.
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."
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 article has been updated with the announcement about pausing the reopening process.
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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.
🗓 All weekend
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
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
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
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.
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