AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a mix that doesn’t bode well for Austin-area hospitals: a record-shattering COVID-19 surge, staffing shortages and people returning to more normal activities. Austin-Travis County health leaders say it’s led to emergency rooms and ICUs being overrun with patients.
“This week our emergency departments are saturated,” Douglas Havron, the executive director for the Capital Area of Texas Regional Advisory Council (CATRAC), which largely oversees hospital operations in the area, said.
Havron says on Wednesday there were 281 people admitted to the hospital who were waiting in emergency departments for beds. Almost 40 of those were people who needed to be in an ICU.
“We are asking our community members to do their part,” Havron said. Not only with COVID-19, but with working to prevent injuries and illness in general. “Wearing your safety belt, not driving impaired, don’t text and drive.”
There are more than 160 people in Austin-area ICUs as of Thursday, according to the City of Austin’s COVID-19 staging dashboard. The percentage of people in the ICU with COVID-19 versus other injuries and illnesses has gone from roughly 15% at the beginning of January to roughly 35%.
You can find more COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU data in this story, which is updated daily. That data points to a growing number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 and a growing number of people in the ICU with the virus.
Havron says if you show up to the emergency room right now, regardless of why, you’re going to see the impacts.
“It will be a very busy emergency department,” he said. “Be prepared for very long wait times.”
When asked last week about whether an alternate care site was being looked at in Austin-Travis County, Walkes said if we got to that point we were in “a bad place.”
“The alternate care site is in a what we call ‘warm ready’ state with 50 beds, however, we don’t want to get to the point where we have to use that alternate care site,” she said. “We need to not get there.”