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Austin ICUs exceed capacity as COVID hospitalizations remain high


As the latest COVID surge continues to overwhelm local hospitals, ICU resources are being "stretched to the max," Austin Public Health said on Friday.

The 200-bed ICU capacity for Austin is currently at 239, meaning more patients are being cared for than designed for. And in the entire 11-county Austin metro of 2.4 million people, ICU beds have teetered between two and 10 available beds for the past month.

With the whole state seeing increased COVID hospitalizations, no transfers are able to be made, Austin Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said.

To help alleviate the strain on hospitals, Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services deployed additional medical personnel and equipment to assist hospitals yesterday—the second time this month. However, more people are needed, Walkes said.

Hospitals were already short-staffed at the start of the summer, but as more COVID patients have been admitted, the issue has been exacerbated. Talks have floated in recent weeks about opening an alternate care site as seen in December of 2020, but without enough staffing, no such announcement has been made.

Austin Public Health is continuing to encourage the public to get vaccinated to prevent hospitalizations as most hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated individuals.

"We're doing what we have to. Our health care workers are showing up for the job and they're taking care of patients, and we as the community need to do what we can to stop the spread of this disease and stop the number of cases from increasing," Walkes said.


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