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COVID in Austin Update (June 14)

The good news is our death rate remains relatively low and stable. Our 7-day average for deaths is an even 1, which is middle of the road over the last few months. We’ve stayed under 1 for long periods of time, but also been as high as 2.4.

The bad news is, well, the rest of the report.

We still had 84 new cases today, which is lower than yesterday, but not good for a Sunday.

Looking at the last two months—since April 13—if we look at the average daily count for a weekday and compare it to the average daily count for a weekend, the weekends are relatively slow compared to the week before.

The understanding of this is that labs have a bit of a backlog that they let build up over the weekends, which end up with a Monday spike with the rest of the week being stable.

For the last two months, the percent of new daily cases on a weekend compared to the preceding weekdays varied from a low of 28% (meaning the weekend results were 28% what the weekday prior were) to a high of 76%. Before this weekend, the median rate was 61% (meaning as many weekends had less than 61% of the caseload from the preceding weekend as had more).

This weekend, though, we’re at 93.6% compared to the previous week. And that’s with this week giving us our first triple-digit new cases in a day and giving it to us 4 of the 5 weekdays. In other words, if the pattern continues where the weekend reflects a slight dip, tomorrow’s numbers may be bonkers.

I really hope I’m wrong and the limited data set (only a couple handfuls of weeks) is failing me.

In short, our record high caseload last week looks to still be on the swing up.

Let’s look at hospitalizations, which is more key to see how the virus impacts our health system.

Today, we set a new record of 30 new hospitalizations. We are at 129 total hospitalizations on Sunday, which is five less than the high-water mark set last week.

As the 7-day average for new hospitalizations is what Austin Public Health is using to determine how worried we should be, today’s count of 30 pushes up our 7-day average to 20.8, which breaches to Stage 4 recommendations.

The problem is the City and County has been restricted from doing anything more strict than the Governor has in the State executive orders. So, even though, our local officials believe we’re crossing into a state where we are putting the local areas healthcare system into an emergency situation, they are overall powerless. While they can issue executive orders, they can’t be more strict than the State which is letting restaurants open their dining rooms up to 75% of pre-COVID capacity.

Austin/Travis County reported the highest number of COVID-related ICU patients at 52, breaking the 50-person mark for the first time. Ventilator use is at 29, just shy of the 30-person mark we saw on April 14th (mid-April is also when APH started reporting on number of patients on a venilator. It’s possible there was a higher number before that point).

Buckle up, we’re far from over.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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