National News Desk

ICUs at risk of being overrun within days in Austin, Texas



(AUSTIN, Texas) — Intensive care units in Austin, Texas, are expected to run out of capacity within days as hospitalizations in the area continue to rise.

As of Jan. 12, hospitals were at 90% capacity, with 180 of the 200 ICU beds occupied, according to the city’s public health department.

Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health, said Tuesday that hospital capacity being overwhelmed was “inevitable,” according to ABC News Austin affiliate KVUE. He pointed to University of Texas at Austin models, which project that ICU capacity could be exhausted in two days.

“We have been sounding the alarm for weeks that our situation was worsening,” Escott said in a statement.

“You must take simple actions today to stop this from worsening,” he added. “Stay home if you can. If you must leave home, wear a mask, practice proper hand hygiene, stay six feet apart from others, and do not gather with someone you do not live with. The whole region must act now.”

To expand hospital capacity, the state opened the Austin Convention Center Wednesday as a field hospital for COVID-19 patients who need lower levels of care.

The newly opened site “will reduce the burden on local hospitals and help ensure that Texans diagnosed with COVID-19 receive the care they need,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. The site, which will have 25 beds, can expand to include more beds if needed, according to the governor’s office.

Texas has surpassed 2 million COVID-19 infections, making it the only state other than California to hit that milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There have been 30,895 deaths from the virus in the state since the outbreak began.

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