Austin area could exceed ICU bed capacity by Sunday, UT models show

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Projections from the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium suggests the Austin-Travis County area could exceed ICU bed capacity by Sunday, a report shows.

The report used data through July 28. A spokesperson for the University of Texas at Austin told KXAN the “report findings are still consistent with the data we see currently.”

According to the Austin-Travis County COVID-19 dashboard, 510 people are hospitalized in our area with COVID-19 right now, with 184 in the ICU and 102 on ventilators.

The UT research was conducted to study the risks of reopening schools to in-person learning this fall. The projections were sent to Austin area health officials and have been reported, in-part, by Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, in her briefings earlier this week.

The report found the risk of at least one student coming to class infected with COVID-19 on the first day can be reduced from 94% to 37% if the community religiously wears face coverings in public spaces, practices social distancing and avoids non-essential trips.

“Without strong mitigative measures within schools, school reopening could exacerbate the local epidemic and put children in our community at risk. Wearing face masks in schools, vaccinated or not, and continuing to take other precautions will allow us to protect children, their families, and the community,” Spencer Fox, associate director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, said.

KXAN reached out to area hospitals to gain insight on their current ICU bed capacity. The three big hospital systems in Central Texas (Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare) say they’re continuing to monitor the surge in coronavirus cases.

In a joint statement, they say they are seeing increasing rates of severe illness and hospitalization.

“The vast majority of the patients being treated for COVID-19 infections are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and these hospitalizations are putting a significant strain on our healthcare workers,” the statement read.

They are urging the public to get vaccinated to help protect against the virus, as well as lessen the burden on frontline workers.

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