As Travis County hits 70% fully vaccinated, more people in hospitals coming from surrounding counties


AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 70% of the eligible population in Travis County is now fully vaccinated.

The area still has not hit herd immunity because that percentage factors out kids under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible.

Still, as a result of that increased vaccine uptick, Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, says area hospitals are starting to see fewer COVID-19 patients from Travis County, and more from surrounding counties where vaccination rates are lower.

During previous surges, Walkes says Travis County residents made up 57% of the people in local hospitals. That number is now 51%, with 49% of people in our hospitals coming from surrounding counties.

The figures below factor in people under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.

Walkes says they met with health authorities from several counties last week to figure out how to address vaccine hesitancy to try and ease the strain on hospitals here. She says they’re working with those counties to find partners that can reach rural communities.

“At APH we are convening and working with our county counterparts to talk to them about where we’re seeing the stress points,” Walkes said. “There are several people that are sitting in our hospitals waiting for admission to ICU, not only for COVID but for things like heart attacks and stokes and just general medical care.”

In Travis County, Walkes said Labor Day weekend gatherings don’t appear to have impacted overall case numbers, which are still trending down. She also said school cases seem to have gone down again last week, though she added that contact tracing at schools is not always reliable because parents can utilize home tests, which aren’t automatically reported to APH.

She said 659 cases were reported in Travis County schools last week. She noted that more testing could be coming for local school districts.

According to the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard, 505 people are in area hospitals with COVID-19, 208 people are in our ICUs. Austin-Travis County’s ICU capacity is 200 people, Walkes has said in previous meetings.

Austin-Travis County health leaders announced Monday that ICUs are completely full. The current surge is different than previous ones, officials say, since all acute care hospitals were already nearly full with non-COVID-19 patients when it began.

The 7-day moving average for hospital admissions dropped to 52 on Monday, down from 55 late last week. That’s the metric health leaders use to decide which risk-based guidelines the area falls in. If that average dropped below 50, that means health leaders could move the area to less restrictive Stage 4 guidelines. The area is still in Stage 5.

Moving to Stage 4 would mean vaccinated people, regardless of risk, can do day-to-day activities in a mask. For people who are unvaccinated, it would loosen guidelines on travel slightly.

Exactly a week ago, Walkes estimated we could hit Stage 4 guidelines by late September or early October.

Use the arrows to navigate the COVID-19 risk-based guidelines chart for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents of Austin-Travis County below.

COVID-19 risk-based guidelines for unvaccinated residents

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