Even as positive COVID cases and new hospital admissions are on a downward trend, ICU capacity is at dire levels.
At a press conference Friday, Austin Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said Austin ICUs are over capacity with 229 ICU patients for 200 beds. ICU patients are also being cared for longer. While hospitals are "stretching themselves thin" to provide for more patients, there are patients that should be getting ICU care that are unable to due to capacity.
Additionally, routine medical care is being impacted, Walkes said. At one point this week, 20 patients were looking to be transferred to get care—five were for COVID, the other 15 were for strokes and other illnesses, according to Walkes.
Austin Public Health Director Dr. Adrienne Stirrup told a story of a veteran with appendicitis who lost his life as hospitals were forced to turn him away.
"That is sad that in this day and age that someone could pass from something that could be resolved relatively quickly because our hospitals are full of folks that don't necessarily have to be there," Stirrup said, referring to people that could choose to get the vaccine to prevent hospitalization.
Austin health officials are asking the remaining 31% who aren't fully vaccinated to get the shot to help relieve hospitals and to prevent potential cancellations of major events like Austin City Limits. The department says that those unvaccinated are 10 times more likely to require hospitalization and 10 times more likely to die from it.
On the positive side, new hospital admissions are declining and the COVID test positivity rate is down to about 10%.
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Nineteen kids and two adults are dead after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas—a small town an hour and a half west of San Antonio—on Tuesday afternoon.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, is believed to have been killed by the police. The Uvalde Police Department said the shooting began at 11:43 a.m. Tuesday.
“What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “He shot and killed—horrifically, incomprehensibly.”
Texans are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime & for the community of Uvalde.
Cecilia & I mourn this horrific loss & urge all Texans to come together.
I've instructed @TxDPS & Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to fully investigate this crime. pic.twitter.com/Yjwi8tDT1v
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 24, 2022
According to University Health Hospital officials, a 66-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl arrived in critical condition. Uvalde Memorial Hospital reportedly received 13 children for treatment and two individuals who were already deceased. At the time, it was believed 14 had died in this shooting.
The shooter prompted a lockdown at the elementary school of just under 550 students, with San Antonio Police sending SWAT, and Eagle chopper and Crime Scene Investigators.
According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden has been briefed on the tragedy and “His prayers are with the families impacted by this awful event, and he will speak this evening when he arrives back at the White House.”
At 21 deaths, it is the deadliest school shooting in Texas and one of the deadliest in the U.S. since 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary lost their lives. This is the U.S.'s 213th mass shooting of 2022.
Local celebrity Matthew McConaughey issued a statement calling for action as he and the rest of the nation mourn for the 21 lives lost in the Uvalde school shooting.
Nineteen kids between the ages of 6 and 10 years old and two adults were killed Wednesday at Robbs Elementary School in the small town of Uvalde, an hour and a half drive west of San Antonio.
McConaughey was born in Uvalde in 1969, where he lived in his young years. His mother was a school teacher and his father worked in the Texas oil industry.
He tweeted his response to the deadly shooting, saying, "This is an epidemic we can control, and whichever side of the aisle we may stand on, we all know we can do better. We must do better. Action must be taken so that no parent has to experience what the parents in Uvalde and the others before them have endured."