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As the number of active COVID-19 cases continues to surge across Austin and the state of Texas, the Travis County Medical Society issued a call for help "to any qualified members who would be available and willing to work temporarily as inpatient physicians" on Thursday.


The COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin projects the Austin metro—a five-county area—will exceed its ICU capacity by Jan. 15 if transmission continues at its current rate.

Trauma Service Area O, which includes Travis County and 11 other Central Texas counties, only has 39 available ICU beds for a population of approximately 440,127 people, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Local officials expect to start the activation process to open the Austin Convention Center as a field hospital in the next week or two due to the current surge.

"It seems very clear to us that we are going to run out of hospital beds," Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Wednesday.

TCMS President Dr. Nancy Thorne Foster said the organization is seeking internal medicine, family physicians and qualified subspecialists "who feel comfortable with hospital care" and could round on 10 to 12 patients each day, starting as early as Monday, in the email.

Emergency onboarding and credentialing would be provided and members would be reimbursed for their efforts, she added.

TCMS, which represents about 4,000 physicians locally, has been an active participant in the local COVID response.

In early July, the organization shared a five-minute video comparing the spread of the virus to the Titanic and asking residents to do what they could to mitigate it. Nearly 212,000 people viewed it on YouTube.

The next week, TCMS issued a call for volunteers to help staff the field hospital in July, during the summer surge. More than 180 doctors responded, although the convention center was ultimately not needed.

This time may be different, however.

"What we experience over the summer is nothing compared to what we will experience over the next two months if we don't change things very quickly," Escott said earlier this week.

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