AUSTIN (KXAN) – State data shows there are only 13 intensive care unit beds available in the Austin area, which has 11 counties. This means that over 98% of all intensive care beds in the region are currently occupied.
It comes as Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order on Thursday that prevents local authorities from adopting COVID-19 mask warrants and trade restrictions.
According to data from Austin Public Health, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the five-county Austin subway peaked at 619 on January 19. Currently, 325 people are hospitalized with the virus.
As of Thursday, more than 6,300 new confirmed cases were reported in the state. With the increased transmissibility of the delta variant, hospitals in the region say the increase in the number of cases is “putting extraordinary pressure on [their] hospitals, emergency services and health professionals.
This is in part due to a long-standing nursing shortage, officials said in a joint statement from Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare. They are asking community members to get vaccinated and wear a mask before it is too late.
Emergency doctor Natasha Kathuria says she is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated.
âIt affects everyone, it affects our management and our ability to take care of everyone, not just COVID patients. So it’s very stressful, âsaid Kathuria. âIt’s an entire system that’s stressed, and when a system is stressed, that means our care is stressed for every type of illness, not just COVID-19. “
An Austin Public Health spokesperson said the department is still discussing plans for an alternative care site and is ready to step up if demand comes from hospitals.
âWe’re at a crossroads,â Austin-Travis County health authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said Tuesday. âWe are now planning alternative care sites. “
Local leaders are also reviewing plans for mass casualties.
Hospitals state in their joint statement that if they reach their maximum capacity, each hospital “has an emergency plan that includes the use of all patient care spaces and employees available within the hospital. [their] hospitals and other settings across [their] health systems. “
Hospital systems also say they are bringing in additional staff using regional and national resources. Officials say they could transfer patients between facilities within their respective health systems to provide the most appropriate care.