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Austin COVID hospitalizations reach highest point in months as four Delta variant cases are confirmed

Austin is seeing an uptick in new COVID cases and related hospitalizations as the more contagious delta variant spreads across the U.S. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Austin, likely fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant and overwhelmingly affecting unvaccinated individuals.


There have been four confirmed Delta variant cases in Travis County, Austin Public Health announced Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there were 24 new admissions in the five-county Austin metro on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day moving average to 19—its highest point since April 29, according to Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines.

This puts the metro squarely in stage three, where APH recommends that high-risk unvaccinated individuals—namely those 65 years or older—avoid any non-essential activities to mitigate risk.

Overall, 100 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the metro as of Tuesday, with 39 in the ICU and 19 on ventilators.

More than 90% of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes told KXAN last week, mirroring trends around the country.

The Austin metro is now in stage three of APH's risk-based guidelines based on new hospital admissions. (Austin Public Health)


New reported cases are also trending upwards. More than 200 cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the seven-day moving average to 85, up from 33 a week ago, according to APH.

Walkes told Travis County commissioners on Tuesday that the likely culprit behind these trends is the more contagious and deadly Delta variant, which now accounts for about 58% of all COVID cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. In late May, Delta was estimated to account for approximately only 3% of new cases in the U.S.

Although Travis County is approaching the threshold for herd immunity—which experts have estimated is around 70%—it has not yet reached it, meaning that the disease is still circulating and evolving to become more contagious, pushing the threshold further up. There are also still subsets of the population that are not yet eligible for the vaccine, including young children.

More than 70% of Travis County residents 12 and older are partially vaccinated, and more than 61% are fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Local health officials continue to implore residents to get vaccinated if they haven't already. "Existing vaccinations are still more than 90% effective in keeping individuals safe," Interim APH Director Adrienne Sturrup said in a July 2 press release. "It is more important than ever to have these discussions around vaccinations and why they are so important for families and our community in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Information about where to find a free COVID vaccine can be found here.

This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include how many cases of the Delta variant have been confirmed in the metro.

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