AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler is echoing local health officials, warning that hospital beds in Austin and Travis County are on track to hit capacity in July, if the area doesn’t work to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In an interview with CNN on Saturday evening, the Mayor described the prospect of increased hospitalizations related to the virus next month as a “scary thing.”
He previously said that the Austin metro area has the highest rate of positive COVID-19 tests in the country.
Austin Public Health says 316 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital as of Saturday, while the number of new cases and hospitalizations in Texas have also reached record highs.
“There’s about a three-week lag on hospitalizations so a deadline like the one we face that’s mid to the latter part of July is a scary thing,” Mayor Adler told CNN.
“That gives us probably about a week to maybe ten days to see if we’re able to change behaviors enough so that we don’t end up in that place.”
Increased mask wearing and social distancing would lower the current trajectory, he said.
On Wednesday, Austin Public Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott joined other local doctors and health care workers to warn that models show show Austin and Travis County reaching hospital capacity by mid-July if cases continue to rise in the rate they have been. Escott said he’d consider asking for another area shutdown if the trajectory didn’t change soon.
During his CNN interview, the Mayor called on Gov. Greg Abbott to back local leaders by mandating the use of masks and facial coverings in public.
“This messaging that’s coming out of Washington is confusing people and we need more help from our state leaders to make very clear that this is very serious,” he said.
“Our Governor tells people it’s the most important thing they can do is to wear a mask, we just need him to say that it’s mandatory because of the message that it sends.”