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‘Urgent Action Needed’ | Austin-Travis County facing low ICU capacity, reaches threshold for Stage 5

Austin-area ICU capacity reached its lowest point since the start of the pandemic Thursday with only 13 beds available.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health is “urging the community to act” as the seven-day average for new hospital admissions reached 50, or 49.9, on Friday. The threshold for Stage 5 in Austin-Travis County is 50-90 new hospital admissions, depending on the rate of increase.

Trauma Service Region O (TSA-O) is fluctuating with only 16 ICU beds available. The region serves over 2.3 million people across 11 counties.

RELATED: Austin-area doctor gives insight on what it's like in hospitals as bed capacity plummets

Austin-area ICU capacity reached its lowest point since the start of the pandemic on Saturday, with only nine staffed beds available.

“We are running out of time and our community must act now,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes, said in a press release. “Our ICU capacity is reaching a critical point where the level of risk to the entire community has significantly increased, and not just to those who are needing treatment for COVID. If we fail to come together as a community now, we jeopardize the lives of loved ones who might need critical care.”

APH is recommending that vaccinated people begin choosing drive-thru and curbside options and participate in outdoor activities and social gatherings with limited sizes. It's also asking vaccinated people to wear a mask indoors and social distance.   

Partially or unvaccinated individuals are recommended to avoid gatherings, travel, dining and shopping and wear a mask when conducting essential activities.

According to the press release, COVID-19 patients in Austin-area ICUs have increased 28% since last Friday, and patients on ventilators have increased 38%. 

“We know our community has been resilient in fighting this pandemic over the last 18 months, and we are yet again calling on everyone to help one another by taking action that can slow this surge,” Interim Director of APH Adrienne Sturrup said. “Everyone is exhausted at this point, but we will continue to lose loved ones if we don’t heed the warnings the data is showing us and take the appropriate actions of getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and staying home if we are sick.”

The positivity rate in Austin is now at 13.7%, the highest since January 2021, according to the release. About 63.12% of residents are fully vaccinated. 

Credit: KVUE
Austin-Travis County's Stage 5 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines

APH announced that over 70% of Austin residents had received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine earlier this month.

Austin-Travis County moved to Stage 4 last Friday, July 23. Under Stage 5, unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to avoid all private gatherings and traveling. Vaccinated individuals are encouraged to wear a mask.

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