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Available Austin ICU beds down to 2, as more kids contracting COVID


Decreasing from six available ICU beds for the 2.4 million Austin metro over the weekend, there are now only two available beds as of Monday evening, according to Austin Public Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes.

At a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, Walkes gave an update on the dwindling 200-bed ICU capacity, which is seeing the least available beds compared to other major metros in the state.

Although other metros may seem to have more available beds such as the Dallas metro with 100 beds, transferring of patients is becoming increasingly difficult, she said. With a staffing shortage, talks of an alternative care center are limited and have not been acted on as of Tuesday.

Pediatric cases have been of particular concern, as this surge—being attributed to the Delta variant and spread among unvaccinated individuals—is affecting more children with the start of school around the corner.

The total COVID-19 caseload for kids has already surpassed the total for 2020. From March to December 2020, there were 7,019 confirmed cases in children; from January 2021 to date, there have been 7,438 confirmed cases.

Hospitalizations are also increasing in children. There were 12 kids in the ICU in July, compared to only one in June of this year.

The 12-17 age group is seeing the highest rate of admission into ICU and highest rate of transmission among those under 18 years of age. It is also the age group that is eligible for vaccines.

Health officials are asking that children wear a mask at school to mitigate the spread of the virus. On Monday, Austin ISD announced the district will require face masks for in-person learning starting this month in defiance of an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott that bans mask mandates.

At Stage 5 level of COVID risk, Austin health officials are asking everyone, including those vaccinated to wear a mask. Walkes said masking is important due to the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant in the presymptomatic phase, meaning it can be spread before someone knows they have COVID.

"Everything that we can do to bend this curve downward is going to be important for our community, and particularly for our children," Walkes said. "Masking is important."


A big announcement from Austonia

Howdy, and happy holidays.

I have some big news for you.

Austonia is now part of 6AM City, a fast-growing network of hyper-local newsletters across the country.

I’m proud to be telling you this, because 6AM City’s mission is very much like Austonia’s — a daily morning update on events, things-to-do and news, with an underlying mission of community building in the cities they serve.

If you’re not already subscribed, 6AM City’s Austin newsletter is called ATXtoday. One of its city editors is Laura Figi, who you’ll remember for her previous great work on Austonia’s newsletter.

I’ve been reading ATXtoday every day since it launched last year.

Starting this week, you’ll receive ATXtoday every morning and I’m confident it will become part of your daily wake up routine. Be sure to add to your contact list (how to do that here).

Meantime let me thank you for your readership and support of Austonia, and convey my wishes for a great holiday season for you and those close to you.

Thank you,

Mark Dewey

Austonia CEO

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.