Austin Public Health expects ICU space to fill up quick

Coronavirus Hospitalizations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — COVID-19 positivity rates are on the rise across the state and here locally our numbers are surging as well. Interim Austin Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said he expects the area to exceed its 200-bed ICU capacity by Jan. 15 if not sooner.

“We are going to surge. We are going to exceed capacity. The question is how much are we going to exceed capacity,” Escott said.

According to the City of Austin’s COVID-19 dashboard, current numbers for our area show 156 ICU beds in use with 552 hospitalized and 91 people on ventilators.

Escott urged the public to stay in and avoid non-essential travel and group settings while speaking to Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday.

Austin currently has a positivity rate of 15% which is up from 12% the week prior and the outlook is grim moving ahead. Escott says we are just now starting to see cases pop up from Christmas and he expects to see even more cases 10-14 days after New Year’s Eve.

“We are going to realize those increases in hospital admissions and ICU admissions this week, which will certainly change the outlook for next week,” Escott said.

Surrounding counties are seeing those increases, as well. Bastrop County has a 24% positivity rate, Caldwell County has a 21% positivity rate, Hays County is at a 19% positivity rate and Williamson County has a 20% positivity rate.

It is a troubling trend Escott says won’t subside until changes are made.

“This indicates we need to have substantial change in policy to more aggressively mitigate the risk of spread,” Escott said.

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