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Austin broke its previous record with 620 patients in the hospital due to COVID on Friday. (Shutterstock)

The Austin metro has surpassed its January record with 620 people hospitalized for COVID as of Friday, more than its previous high of 619 during the winter surge.

Austin Public Health also reported a new record of patients on ventilators, with 162 in use. On Wednesday, the metro saw 223 ICU admissions as well, an all-time high. That number has dropped to 222, while just three ICU beds in the 11-county Central Texas region are now available.

Austin sits comfortably in the Stage 5 range, the highest stage of risk-based recommendations, with 753 daily new cases on Friday as the highly-contagious delta variant continues to send mostly unvaccinated residents to the hospital.

The county would need to drop between 30-50 new hospitalizations per a seven-day daily average to downgrade to Stage 4 recommendations. Travis County currently has a seven-day moving average of 78 hospital admissions.

Austin's new cases rose to 3,207 active cases on Friday, up from 2,983 one day prior, while Texas reported 11,762 new cases. The state has seen 29 COVID-related deaths this week.

While hospitalizations seem to be beginning to increase at lower rates, City of Austin Chief Epidemiologist Janette Pichette said things could continue to get worse before they get better.

"As history has shown based on H1N1 and other viruses, I anticipate we will continue to see cases increases over the next few weeks before things get better," Pichette said.

Despite the continued rise of hospitalizations, the state of Texas is still well below its hospitalization record of 14,218 patients in January with 12,841 hospitalized Friday.

The state has also seen improved vaccination rates. As of Friday, 66.34% of Texans 12 and older had received at least one does of the vaccine, up from 64.76% one week prior.

In Travis County, 1.38% of the eligible population received a dose of the vaccine from Aug. 13 to Friday. Around 65.6% of the eligible population is now fully vaccinated.


(Bob Daemmrich)

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