TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas – The arrival of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Texas was celebrated on Monday, but that celebration has been somewhat tempered but the fact that the state remains in a virus deluge.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler quoted Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Interim Public Health Agency, said the Austin-Travis County area is heading towards Level 5 on the list of public health guidelines.
“Our community has now suffered over 500 COVID-19 deaths. At this rate, this pandemic will be the third leading cause of death in our community in just a few days. This is a serious virus, ”wrote Adler.
Austin-Travis County is currently in Phase 4. Under Phase 5 guidelines, it is suggested that only essential businesses remain open and that everyone avoid non-essential travel and gatherings involving people outside of an individual’s immediate household. These recommendations complement social distancing measures like avoiding the sick, wearing face covering, and keeping your distance from others.
Specifically, Alder said the jump to level 5 would be triggered when the region exceeds 50 daily hospital stays over a seven day period, which is rapidly approaching.
“District Judges Brown, Dr. Escott and I have not yet determined what rules and guidelines in Red – Risk Level 5 would apply. We know our community is being asked to take our obligations to wear masks whenever and wherever people are close to be really serious about your household and to avoid significant gatherings. Mask and social distance, ”wrote Adler. “DR. Escott will consider bars (which operate under the exception of the Governor’s” Restaurant “) as a particular concern to determine if there are practices that might make them less unsafe.”
Adler also warned that there is a risk that Austin-Travis County could exceed ICU capacity, writing, “We can occupy approximately 200 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. We only have about 90 in our intensive care units today (but we were only at 79 the day before) so we currently have capacity. But the person showing up in our intensive care units in two weeks is someone who is likely to be infected right now. Our numbers in the ICU will continue to increase for about two weeks even after we change our behavior. ”