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COVID-19 cases starting to plateau in Austin area, but leaders are 'cautiously optimistic'

As cases continue to increase in area schools, Austin's health authority said it's important to remain vigilant.

AUSTIN, Texas — In an Austin Public Health (APH) briefing with City and Travis County leaders, health leaders said that COVID-19 cases appear to be decreasing in the Austin area amid the latest surge. But Austin and Travis County are still under the Stage 5 coronavirus risk-based guidelines.

Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin's top doctor, said, "We're starting to see our case numbers decrease over time, and that is an exceptional thing to say at this point."

She said 886 COVID-19 cases were reported to APH on Aug. 30, and that the moving average for hospitalizations is 72. Six hundred and four COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. She added that 220 people are in the ICU and 170 of those people are on ventilators.

But she added that APH is cautiously optimistic.

"We do know that our case numbers at our schools have gone up tremendously over this past week," Walkes said. "And so, we're cautiously optimistic about whether this plateau that we're seeing is going to persist or whether we're going to see another increase in our cases."

She said we have exceeded our staffed ICU bed capacity, so it's important that the community keeps numbers down by masking, social distancing, staying home when sick and getting vaccinated.

Doctors are encouraging anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 to talk to their doctor about monoclonal antibody therapy. Doctors are starting to see some success with this treatment when people are treated within 10 days of showing symptoms.

"We look at our death rates and look at the how we're doing as compared to other major metropolitan areas, and Travis County still is doing well as compared to other major metropolitan areas with 84.41% deaths per 100,000," Walkes said.

County leaders say we should still remain vigilant. Stay home when you're sick and get tested if you feel ill.

This good news comes as Walkes revealed some tragic news that came from an Austin area hospital this weekend.

Walkes said that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, a child in the Austin area died from complications of COVID-19. Walkes said this child, who had previous health conditions, had been in the hospital on a ventilator for a month before they died over the weekend.

For the first time, the Texas Department of Health Services released the numbers of kids currently in the hospital. There are 15 children currently in the hospital with COVID-19 in Central Texas' 11-county region. 

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