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Covid in Austin Update (June 16)

Before we jump to today’s update, I wanted to share a little art that Austin Transportation added to Congress Ave today.

In addition to the usual data drop, Governor Abbott held a press conference today looking at hospital capacity. Personally, the press conference was overall underwhelming.

Numbers are going up, though in some places, Governor Abbott was keen to point out, the number of cases can be attributed to things like a big batch of prison tests coming back. It felt a bit like trying to point out a couple of examples to try to show that there’s nothing to worry about. In reality, while there are some outliers, we are trending in the wrong direction.

Governor Abbott did rightly suggest the Memorial Day gatherings, bars, and other social gatherings are the likely causes of the general upward trend.

There’s not much else of the Governor’s remarks worth noting except he isn’t planning on changing course for reopening the economy and he has no intention of allowing local jurisdictions the ability to enforce masks.

There was a presentation about hospital bed capacity. The basic gist of all this is there are still plenty of standard hospital beds in Texas. We have a good number of beds available and we have plenty of options to add capacity if needed. The presentation did look at each TSA’s status.

The Department of State Health Services divide Texas into a couple dozen Trauma Service Areas where a regional advisory council coordinate regional health care response.

Here’s an important note for those following along with my commentaries or those discussing Austin/Travis County’s reports. Austin’s TSA is composed of a number of counties: Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, San Saba, Travis, and Williamson. Austin/Travis County, however, reports hospitalizations based on the Metropolitan Statistical Area: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, & Williamson counties. I wouldn’t expect there to be a major difference in the number of general beds or ICU beds.

As of tonight’s data drop, Austin reported 59 individuals in the ICU—a 13% jump from yesterday. Based on the TSA’s ICU beds available, we could likely handle another 100 people in the ICU presuming the number of non-COVID ICU patients remain stable. Our total hospitalization count for Austin is at a new high at 158 from 142 yesterday. We have about 900 empty hospital beds in the area—which includes Dell Children’s Medical Center (~250-bed facility).

In short, we still have a ways to go before we fill up our hospitals.

I don’t know about you, but having the State’s response to the increasing numbers be “it’s okay, we still have hospital beds for you!” isn’t comforting.

Moving on, today’s numbers continue the “not great” trend. 107 new cases, no deaths. “Only” 22 new hospitalizations, so our 7day-avg climbed to 24,6. Our ICU jump to a new-high of 59 is concerning. We were at 48 on Saturday.

To keep iterating, we’re not out of the woods. Wear a mask, stay home, and if you can’t stay home, stay at least six feet away from each other.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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