COVID-19 hospitalizations in Austin double in a week, expect Stage 4

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Exactly a week ago, the number of people Austin Public Health reported were in local hospitals was 104. Tuesday that number jumped to 203, nearly doubling.

The city’s key indicators for staging dashboard showed 64 new admissions to hospitals Tuesday. It brought the 7-day moving average of hospital admissions to 36, squarely in the threshold for Stage 4 guidelines. The number of people in local intensive care units also jumped roughly 20 people over last week.

“Austin Public Health leadership is very concerned by trends showing increases among our key indicators,” a spokesperson for APH said. “We are reviewing these sharp upticks in consultation with local hospitals and data experts. Expect an update on staging in the coming days.”

For people who are fully vaccinated, Stage 4 guidelines recommend masking in all situations, even when gathering outdoors. For people who are not fully vaccinated, it recommends eliminating travel and only dining or shopping through takeout or curbside service.

COVID-19 risk-based guidelines chart
Courtesy Austin Public Health

Community transmission rate, hospitalizations and county positivity rate, the metrics used to inform the risk-based guidelines, are all trending upwards after holiday gatherings were had and the omicron variant spreads.

Testing sites around Austin-Travis County have seen lines that, in some cases, are hundreds of cars long after health leaders asked people to test before and after holiday travel and gatherings. Testing professionals told KXAN that the positivity rate and case numbers in Austin are likely higher than recorded because of the popularity of at-home tests right now.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are vaccinated described their symptoms to KXAN as being similar to that of having allergies, others said they ran a fever and experienced difficulties breathing.

“If you have any symptoms at all do not write it off,” Ana Lopez, a central Texas woman who is vaccinated, got her booster shot and tested positive for COVID-19 last week, said. “We’re not out of the woods so please just use some discretion.”

Health leaders have warned symptoms will be more serious for people who are not vaccinated.

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