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New COVID cases, hospitalizations continue to rise in Austin as Thanksgiving looms
(City of Austin)

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott reported significant increases in new COVID cases and hospitalizations this week and warned that Thanksgiving gatherings would accelerate spread.

With new COVID cases, hospital admissions and positive tests on the rise in Travis County, local health officials asked residents to recommit to protective actions—or risk a worsening surge as holiday gatherings accelerate transmission.


"The real threat is over Thanksgiving," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday. "If people don't heed the advice, if they gather with family and friends in the traditional sense …. We are going to see substantial spread as a result of that."

In the last 12 days, Travis County has posted a more than 100% increase in the average number of new COVID cases confirmed each day. There has also been a 50% increase in new hospital admissions over the same period.

These trends raise concerns about local hospital capacity.

Already, Travis County hospitals have accepted 13 patients from other jursidictions, Escott said. They are primarily from El Paso, where there are now nearly as many active COVID cases as total cases reported in Travis County since March.

Although Austin's three hospital systems—Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's HealthCare—have plenty of available beds right now, staffing is a concern.

"From the hospital standpoint, we have beds. We have ventilators," Escott said. "The challenge is the people."

As a result, local health officials have revised the metro's ICU surge capacity from 331 beds to just 200. They are also considering lowering the threshold for Stage 4 risk-based guidelines from an average of 40 new COVID-related hospitalizations each day, given the reduction in ICU beds.

Currently, 64 ICU beds are occupied in the Austin metro.

But updated projections from the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin suggest that many more could be soon.

Based on the current transmission rate, researchers at the consortium estimate that the metro could see as many as 116 ICU patients by mid-December, which means there would be fewer beds available for non-COVID cases, such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries.

To help prevent this outcome, local officials are discussing policy changes, such as a reduction in restaurant capacity limits, that might help reverse this trajectory and avoid a second shutdown.

Ultimately, such changes are up to the governor.

In the meantime, Escott stressed the importance of masking, social distancing and hand-washing over the Thanksgiving holiday.

This is especially important for high school and college students, who may be involved in extracurricular activities or returning home from campus.

(Austin Public Health)

Last week, Travis County school districts reported 144 new COVID cases among students and teachers, nearly all of which stemmed from social or extracurricular activities rather than from classroom interactions, Escott said.

The University of Texas at Austin also reported a significant increase in its clinical testing positivity rate, which was 12.1% for the week ending Nov. 14, compared to 7.1% the week before.

Escott urged students to wear masks while at home and maintain social distancing to avoid infecting their family members and other close contacts.

"We're seeing what we expected to see," he said. "When people aren't masked or social distancing, transmission is happening."

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

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.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

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

✨ Mozart's Light Show

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

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

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

🛍 The Front Market

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.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

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