AUSTIN, Texas — On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark E. Escott addressed the new "stay-at-home" regulation set in response to COVID-19. He warned the public that if the situation is not taken seriously, hospitals will run out of beds and equipment to treat the ill.

Dr. Escott said that schools and businesses are not expected to reopen anytime soon. Models created at the University of Texas suggest that premature reopening forces hospitals to be responsible for providing 20,000 beds per day.

"We cannot wait until the hospitals are overrun to make decisions," said Escott.

Health professionals in Italy and China are having to make difficult decisions regarding the allocation of masks and ventilators. Escott said it has come down to, "Who gets the opportunity to survive or not?"

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In his address, Escott urged the public to take measures to delay and prevent this spread until we are more prepared:

"Today in the City of Austin-Travis County, we have enough hospital beds, we have enough ICU beds, we have enough ventilators to get us through the next three to four weeks, but if we don't take action today, we are going to run out," he said.

Escott recommended the stay-at-home order effective immediately due to this imminent threat.

"We can't take any chances right now," said Dr. Escott. "Not when we are still identifying additional bed capacity and ventilator capacity."