Around 14% of Austin COVID-19 cases involve hospitalizations, APH says

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A Baylor Scott & White drive through COVID-19 test site in Austin. (KXAN Photo/ Kaitlyn Karmout).

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At Austin City Council’s work session Tuesday, Austin Public Health presented a wide range of data on how the community is being impacted by COVID-19.

As of Tuesday evening, Austin-Travis County was reporting 554 cases and 7 deaths. Of the total number of cases, APH said 77 are people who are currently hospitalized, a number which reflects almost 14% of the total COVID-19 cases in the area.

At the time when Austin’s Interim Health Authority presented before Austin City Council Tuesday, he was using data from Monday night. At that time, he told the council there were 76 people hospitalized in Austin-Travis County due to COVID-19 which is roughly 15% of the 502 confirmed cases in the county at that time.

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In that presentation before the council, APH said the cases in Austin-Travis County are in people ages 0 through 97, with a median age of 38. As has been consistent throughout the entire time, the region has been tracking COVID-19 cases, roughly half of Austin-Travis County’s COVID-19 cases are people ages 20-40, APH said.

While the first confirmed cases in Austin-Travis County were announced on March 13, Escott explained that the earliest onset of COVID-19 illness in the region was back on March 4.

The department said it is investigating and following eight clusters of COVID-19 cases in the region. Dr. Escott said those cases include the cluster of UT students who went to Spring Break in Cabo San Lucas and also include clusters in nursing homes or other clinical outpatient settings.

Currently, Austin Travis-County does not have enough COVID-19 tests for people who are asymptomatic to be tested, but APH noted that some asymptomatic people with potential ties to these clusters have been tested. Escott said while these clusters reflect a minority of the overall cases, they are challenging to track because cases are mapped based on the patient’s residence as opposed to where they may have contracted the virus.

When asked why APH’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the highest concentration of local cases in the 78705 zip code near UT Austin, Escott explained that most of those cases are “related to the Cabo trip.”

“I have personally contacted many of those young people, they have acted very responsibly since their exposure,” Escott said, noting that all of them have expressed willingness to be plasma donors.

Escott told council members of COVID-19, ” this disease is very puzzling. “

“In a group of 19 students I spoke to recently, only one of the 19 ever developed a fever” he said.

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