Austonia daily newsletter—direct to your inbox 6 a.m.

become a member


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%.


If the FDA approves emergency use authorization of its COVID vaccine for kids, those 5 years and older will all be eligible for a shot. (Pexels)

The Food and Drug Administration will consider Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency use authorization in 5-to-11-year-olds on Tuesday. The vaccine will likely be available to kids starting next week.

Keep Reading Show less

Northwest Arkansas is urging Austinites to move once again with a free one-way ticket giveaway. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

While Northwest Arkansas isn't exactly looking to be a breakfast taco-loving, live music-having tech hub, it is branding itself as the Austin of yesteryear. And who better to come to the quickly-growing paradise than Austinites themselves?

Keep Reading Show less

Thaïs Perkins opened Reverie Books in September at 5330 Menchaca Road. (Addie Broyles)

Reverie Books opened just in time.

Sure, the supply chain is out of whack and a global pandemic has been raging for 18 months, but bookstore owner Thaïs Perkins says a queer, feminist and social justice-centered store couldn't have happened without all the changes that the coronavirus pandemic brought and a chance run-in with a used bookstore owner who was ready to retire.

Keep Reading Show less