After six weeks of oscillations, the local trend line in new COVID hospitalizations seems to be pointing more decisively upward.
Both the number of daily COVID-related hospital admissions and the number of hospital beds used by COVID patients across the Austin metro have increased in the past week, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Tuesday. Additionally, the number of ICU beds and ventilators currently in use by COVID patients increased over the same time period.
"All four of those (metrics) indicate that we may be moving upward in terms of the disease in Travis County and the surrounding jurisdictions," Escott said.
(Austin Public Health)
The number of area residents 70 years of age or older who have been hospitalized with COVID has also increased sharply—by 68%—in the last week, according to Austin Public Health data.
Escott attributed this jump to increasing disease spread among teenagers and younger adults and loosening adherence to precautionary actions.
"If individuals are going to visit their parents or grandparents or other loved ones … they should be using great caution in the 14 days before that visit," he said.
Recent projections by the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin has also raised concerns.
Currently, researchers estimate that there is a 66% chance that the pandemic will worsen over the next month and that the seven-day moving average number of daily COVID-related hospital admissions could double—from the current rate of 14 to 28—by Nov. 1.
"When we look at the current projections from the University of Texas modelers, it's a bit concerning looking forward to November," Escott said.
"Last year, with our bad flu season, we maxed out our ICU capacity," Escott said. "We cannot have that happen this year. We cannot tolerate a twindemic of COVID-19 and influenza."
Given these risk factors, Escott recommended that local bars remain closed, even though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott granted county judges the authority to reopen them, with conditions, starting Wednesday. Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe announced that he would heed Escott's advice and reevaluate the situation in two weeks.
"I cannot in good conscience allow bars to reopen at 50% capacity at this time," Biscoe said in a statement issued on Wednesday. "The risk to our public health is too great, especially now that students of all ages have returned to the classroom."
Despite these developments, Escott expressed hope that Travis County residents could flatten the curve before it gets worse by recommitting to masking, social distancing, hand-washing and limiting gatherings.
"The second surge comes when we as a community get tired of those protective actions," he said.
Get our COVID dashboard with other top stories every morning by signing up for our newsletter today!
- Flu season: Austin health officials are focused on vaccines - austonia ›
- Austin public health authority appointment extended, unpaid - austonia ›
- Travis County sees decline in COVID-19 cases amid reopening ... ›
- Austin-Travis County drops to Stage 3 for COVID risk - austonia ›
- Dr. Mark Escott paints a grim picture of COVID-19 in Austin - austonia ›
With a taste of MLS play under their belts, Austin FC is entering the second half of a scoreless inaugural match.
The club has been given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
The two breaks aside, Austin FC has been holding their own against the match favorites. In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team has been quick and intense, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. ATXFC has also kept about equal possession with LAFC, although their shot attempts haven't been quite as nervewracking as the home team.
LAFC has given goalkeeper Brad Stuver some scares with 11 shot attempts, four of them on goal. By contrast, Austin FC has had five shots on goal.
LA has pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense isn't as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and defensive midfielder Alex Ring has shown the qualities that make him captain as he leads his teammates through their first ever match.
Will Austin FC win against the odds? It's tough to tell, but Austonia will keep you updated!
It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!
Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.
5 p.m: Kickoff!
It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!
4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home
Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.
4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium
Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!
~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds
With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.
~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA
(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)
Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.
Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.
11:45 a.m: We landed!
View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)
Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.
We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.
8:20 a.m: LA bound
Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.
A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.
As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.