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Hospitalizations declining, Mu variant, vaccine hesitancy: 5 things to know about COVID-19 in Austin

(Levan/Adobe)

Waning off a summer surge, Austin is seeing declining hospital admissions in the wake of a high number of deaths and as the new Mu variant is in town.


Here's what you need to know to be caught up with the COVID-19 situation in Austin.

Hospitalizations 

In the past several weeks, hospital admissions for COVID have been on a week-on-week decline for all age groups, Austin Health Authority Desmar Walkes said at a Tuesday special joint meeting between the Travis County Commissioners Court and Austin City Council.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the most hospitalized age group has been those in the 50-69 age group.

Pediatric cases continue to be a concern to health officials as there are 133 kids hospitalized with 15 admissions on just Monday. None of the hospitalized children were vaccinated, although only those 12 and older are eligible.

Deaths

Deaths peaked this month with a record 23 COVID-related fatalities on Sept. 8. Since the start of the year until Sept. 10, there has been a total of 447 deaths.

The rise in deaths is being attributed to those unvaccinated and the Delta variant, according to Walkes; 7.3% of vaccinated people have died of COVID between Jan. 1 to Sept. 10.

Of the deaths, 50% have been Hispanic and 58% have been male.

Mu vs. Delta

The Delta variant continues to be the predominant variant in the community at 99% of cases.

The Mu variant, discovered in Colombia back in January, has spread across the U.S. Research suggests it is more transmissible and vaccine-resistant than the Delta variant. However, it currently makes up .1% of lab-confirmed cases in Travis County.

Austin health officials continue to encourage the community to get vaccinated to have protection against variants. Research shared by Austin Public Health shows those vaccinated were 5 times less to contract the Delta variant, 10 times less likely to be hospitalized and more than 10 times less likely to die from it.

Breakthrough cases


Of the 750,000-plus that are fully-vaccinated in the county, 5,964 have had breakthrough cases. APH's disease surveillance team interviewed 1,378 of those with breakthrough cases and found only 59 were hospitalized, or 1%. Thirty two of those cases resulted in death from ages 17-98.

Those hospitiziiled as a breakthrough cases ranged from ages 19-96. Here's the breakdown of what vaccine they had:

  • 13 Johnson & Johnson
  • 18 Moderna
  • 28 Pfizer

Why some are vaccine hesitant

APH conducted a survey in Austin-Travis County among those unvaccinated and found that 68% of survey respondents were vaccine-hesitant.

Of that number, the top reason for hesitancy was not sure if safe (55%), followed by not sure if effective (49%).

APH is continuing with outreach efforts to reach the herd immunity threshold.

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