NO ROOM: Austin-area ICUs totally full despite drop in COVID-19 cases

Austin

A R.N. holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit (MICU) at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. More then half of the patients in the ICU are COVID-19 positive, none of which are vaccinated. (AP Photo/Kyle Green)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While overall hospitalizations for COVID-19 are declining in the Austin-Travis County area, local ICUs are still struggling to keep up.

“… We are not past this surge yet,” the City of Austin and Travis County warned in a joint statement Monday. Health officials explain that despite an encouraging downward trend in cases, hospital ICU capacities are completely full.

The current surge is different than previous ones, officials say, since all acute care hospitals were already nearly full with non-COVID-19 patients when it began. Since July, Austin-Travis county has had over 3,500 COVID-19 in-patients — 1,000 of them required ICU care.

Health officials explain:

“The vast majority of these COVID patients are on ventilators, and approximately 90% of them are unvaccinated. Generally, patients who have been hospitalized during this surge are sicker and staying in the hospital longer.”

Austin-Travis County health officials

Due to the overcrowding, Austin-Travis County says many patients from regional and rural hospitals that depend on Austin-area hospitals for complex care have not been able to be transferred.

Those who are hospitalized are also dying at higher rates than during previous surges, officials report. And only a third of hospitalized patients are over the age of 65.

Austin-Travis County health leaders urge all residents to get vaccinated, continue masking, and social distancing.

“The capacity challenges are impacting all of the hospitals across the Central Texas region. We want to continue to provide lifesaving care for patients who have a heart attack, a stroke, or are injured in a car wreck… Please do your part to cut down on the number of COVID cases in our community, and help us care for you.”

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