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Austin could run out of hospital and ICU beds in 1-2 weeks, Dr. Escott says

"We're going to enter 2021 in a state of emergency," said Dr. Mark Escott in a weekly briefing.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Public Health held its weekly coronavirus update on Dec. 28, just days after the Christmas holiday. In last week's COVID-19 update, Austin-Travis County officially moved to Stage 5 of the risk-based COVID-19 guidelines.

During the 10 a.m. press conference, Dr. Mark Escott said, "right now, we're going to enter 2021 in a state of emergency."

"When I say a 'state of emergency,' I mean we will start 2021 with our hospitals full or nearly full. We're talking about the possibility of, within the first two weeks of 2021, further exceeding that capacity," he said. 

This comes as cases continue to climb and ICU beds in the area fill up. Dr. Escott added that Austin and Travis County might run out of ICU and hospital beds in the next one to two weeks.

"Unfortunately, we've seen an even more significant impact on our ICUs with a 62% increase in ICU utilization in the past last week alone," he said, adding that the projections going forward into the new year continue to worsen.

WATCH: Austin health leaders give COVID update Dec. 28

The doctor referred to this as a "worsening situation."

"Since the beginning of December, our admissions on average are up 106%. Our hospitalizations are currently 365 on average, with 404 on Dec. 27. That's an increase of 67% since the first of this month," Dr. Escott said. 

When it comes to schools, Dr. Escott said he's made recommendations to Central Texas superintendents to cancel or postpone extracurriculars because that's where health experts are seeing transmission in schools.

"It was football. Now we're seeing that transmission in basketball," he said.

He's also made recommendations to "transition high schools to virtual education, then middle schools, and then elementary schools, as a last resort." 

With New Year's Eve days away, APH said their hope is that the community will "make a better choice and not go out."


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