AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health confirmed to KXAN that the daily data update Tuesday shows the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area is experiencing more people hospitalized with COVID-19 and more people in intensive care units with COVID-19 than ever before.
Typically, daily data totals in Austin are not released to the public until the evening of a given day.
But during a briefing of the Travis County Commissioners Court, Austin Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott told Travis County Judge Andy Brown he wanted to share the numbers early because he believes they are important.
The numbers Escott reported for Tuesday in the Austin MSA, which KXAN verified with Austin Public Health are as follows:
- 601 people hospitalized with COVID-19
- 190 COVID-19 patients in ICUs
- 104 COVID-19 patients on ventilators
- 117 new COVID-19 hospital admissions.
Before Tuesday, the previous record in the Austin MSA for COVID-19 hospitalizations was 586 on January 9. The previous record for COVID-19 ICU admissions in the Austin MSA was 180 — a level the area had maintained on January 9, 10 and 11.
Austin Public Health has stated for months that Austin area hospitals have said they have 200 spare ICU beds for COVID-19 patients specifically. Reporting 190 COVID-19 patients in the five-county MSA means there are 10 remaining spare ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in the area.
Austin health leaders have said this trend is especially concerning because all the metropolitan areas in Texas are experiencing a coronavirus surge right now, meaning there are limited resources across the state to help out if Austin exceeds capacity.
“The situation is far from over and more likely to get worse than better in the short term,” said Dr. Escott to the county commissioners. “I cannot over-emphasize the importance of people taking protective actions, staying home if at all possible and if they are leaving their home being very, very careful outside of their home.”
Escott urged people to use take out and delivery options for food and retail. He also advised that if your household must go to the grocery store, only send one person to the grocery store to limit risk.
This news comes the same day Austin is opening a field hospital at the Austin Convention Center to patients. This is the first time the alternate care site at the convention center has needed to be opened during the pandemic.