The average number of daily new COVID-19 hospital admissions in the Austin metro area has been in steady decline over the last week. It is now at 44.3, down from a peak of 75.1 in early July, moving closer to the threshold for a lower risk level—Stage 3—and the loosening restrictions associated with it.
"Whether we actually go into that next stage is up to [Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority] Dr. [Mark] Escott," Mayor Steve Adler said on Facebook Live Tuesday evening. "But we should all feel really good about what we've done in terms of changing that trajectory."
The current threshold for Stage 3 is 40 or fewer average daily hospital admissions, but health officials also consider other factors.
"We are currently evaluating the impact of the threshold as well as updated modeling and secondary indicators, to determine the stage of risk for the City of Austin and Travis County," an Austin Public Health spokesperson wrote in an email to Austonia. "When, or if, something changes, we will definitely let you know."
Austin has been in Stage 4, according to the city's risk-based guidelines, since June 15, when the moving average of new hospital admissions tipped past 20. Local health officials attributed the increase, and the surge that followed, to the state's reopening plan and Memorial Day festivities.
Austin Public Health updated its guidelines late last month, raising its thresholds for Stages 2, 3 and 4. Where Stage 4 used to range from a daily average of 20 and 70 new hospital admissions, for example, it now ranges from 40 to 123.
While new confirmed COVID cases, hospital admissions and the positivity rate among those being tested are now in steady decline, other metrics are less promising.
"The ICUs are still stressed," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday. "The personnel are stressed."
Austin's three hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and St. David's HealthCare—reported an ICU occupancy rate of 83% on Tuesday, only slightly down from a high of 89% in mid-July.
The local COVID-19 transmission rate also needs to decline further, Adler said, before it is safe to reopen businesses and schools. This will require continued adherence to the state's masking mandate and local social distancing recommendations.
"There will be calls for us to return to where we were in May and June real quickly and have it happen fast, and then we can do this up-and-down and up-and-down again, ultimately putting people's health and lives in danger and really ending up in a disruptive economic cycle," Adler said in the video update. "None of those things we want to do."
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Someday, electric vehicles could go distances fit for road trips across Texas.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, who have previously made strides in the lithium-ion battery industry, have developed a new electrode for such batteries that could draw greater power and allow faster charging.
So far, the research has looked at just a single type of battery electrode and is in its early stages. But it offers exciting potential as some buyers consider driving range an important factor when making the switch to an EV or picking one.
Tesla’s Model Y being produced out of Giga Texas, for example, offers an estimated 330-mile range, which is lower than what many have become accustomed to in gas-powered vehicles.
So UT professor Guihua Yu, along with other researchers, had their findings on battery electrodes published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The unprecedented growth of electric vehicles during the past decade has played an indispensable role in paving the way for a carbon-neutral future,” the researchers write.
That’s why it’s key to address a hitch with next-generation batteries, where restacking material can cause “significant bottlenecks” in charge transport, Yu says. Consequently, it can be difficult to achieve high energy and fast charging.
To tackle the sluggish reactions of electrodes, the team used thin two-dimensional materials as the building blocks and stacked them to create thickness. Then, they used a magnetic field to manipulate their orientations and put the materials in vertical alignment. In doing so, researchers essentially made a fast lane for ions to travel through the electrode.
They compared their results to a commercial electrode and a horizontally arranged one for experimental control purposes. In that comparison, they recharged the vertical thick electrode to 50% energy level in 30 minutes. The horizontal electrode took 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Zhengyu Ju, a graduate student in Yu’s research group who is leading this project, said the team’s electrode shows superior electrochemical performance.
In part, that’s “thanks to the unique architecture we designed,” Ju said. It ultimately allowed for high mechanical strength, high electrical conductivity and facilitated lithium-ion transport.
Going forward, the team aims to generalize their methodology of vertically organized electrode layers to apply it to different types of electrodes using other materials. They imagine if this technique becomes more widely adopted in industry, it may create future fast-charging, high-energy batteries to power EVs.
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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!
Fall promises to be a one-of-a-kind camping experience. From Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, weekends will be packed with fall-themed activities, including special Halloween weekends in October. Campers can enjoy activities like fall crafts, campground trick-or-treating, costume contests, site decorating, outdoor movie nights, and more!
Packages and Ways to Stay
Camp Fimfo Waco
Located just 5 miles from McLane Stadium, Camp Fimfo Waco is the perfect place to stay during home game weekends. Skip the stuffy hotel room and embrace the great outdoors before cheering on the Baylor Bears! Campers can purchase a Baylor Tailgating Package that includes a pre-game meal from Executive Chef Sean Kelley and transportation to and from the game! Chef Kelley will also be cooking up delicious, elevated tailgating meals near the stadium so make sure to check out The Plaid Plate food truck before the game.
Stay in style and comfort, no matter your camping preference! At Camp Fimfo Waco, there are multiple ways to stay. Red Carpet RV sites come with a concrete pad and patio, full hook-ups, cable hook-up, a charcoal grill, fire ring and fire pit. Back-in or pull-thru options are available, as well as coveted spots tucked along the Bosque River!
Don’t have an RV? Not a problem, Camp Fimfo Waco has cabins too! Book a Riverview Firewheel Cabin if you’re looking for an air-conditioned oasis for the whole family. Complete with a kitchen and private bathroom, this cabin can fit up to 10 people. Elevate your stay by adding on a golf cart or snag a private cabana by the pool for guaranteed shade. With wifi available throughout the park, you can stay connected during your stay!
Amenities and Activities
Camp Fimfo Waco
Camp Fimfo Waco features lots of amenities to fill your days with fun, whether you’re a kid or kid at heart. After challenging your friends to a game of pickleball, basketball, or mini golf, go for a dip in the resort-style, heated pool - open daily through October! Stay on the weekends through October to enjoy the interactive splash playground. With plenty of ways to burn off energy, like the jumping pillow or playground, you can be sure to end the day with a peaceful night around the campfire!
Right now, you can get the fourth night FREE when you book three nights with the promo code BONUS! Check out the Offers page for full details and more promo codes!