Austin health officials 'cautiously optimistic' as COVID-19 hospital admissions begin to dip

Photo of Dell Seton Medical Center
Coronavirus-related hospital admissions began tracking downward during the last week of August. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

Coronavirus-related hospital admissions began tracking downward during the last week of August. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin Public Health leaders said Aug. 31 they are hopeful that local COVID-19 conditions are improving as coronavirus-related hospital admissions begin to trend downward.

"We're starting to see our case numbers decrease over time, and that is an exceptional thing to say at this point, but we're still cautiously optimistic," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority, in a presentation to Austin City Council and the Travis County Commissioners Court.

As of Aug. 31, the seven-day moving average of daily admissions at Austin-area hospitals—APH's primary indicator for local coronavirus risk—is 70.3, down from the recent peak of 83.6 on Aug. 11. The total number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is currently 582, down from a peak of 653 on Aug. 25. The number of patients in intensive care units has also eased up in recent days, with 211 in ICUs and 158 on ventilators, although hospitals remain strained.

However, Walkes said Travis County had seen an uptick in coronavirus cases traced to schools in the past week, which could put the county's progress at risk. The past seven days saw 817 cases in schools, with more than 17,000 close contacts traced to them. Not all of those close contacts were required to quarantine per Texas Education Agency guidance, according to Walkes.

"We've had a marked increase in school cases across the state of Texas, with schools reopening and not using the mitigation methods that we used last year to decrease case spread in that environment of congregate settings where children are in close quarters and not social distancing," she said.

In order to keep COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations trending downward, Walkes reiterated that unvaccinated individuals over the age of 12, of which there are around 250,000 in Travis County, should seek a shot as soon as possible.

Austin and Travis County remain in Stage 5, the highest level of pandemic risk.
By Olivia Aldridge

Reporter, Central Austin

Olivia joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in March 2019. She covers public health, business, development and Travis County government. A graduate of Presbyterian College in South Carolina, Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas. Her work has appeared on NPR and in the New York Times.


Trustee Lynn Boswell speaks at an Oct. 14 information session of the Austin ISD board of trustees. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD seeks firm to help redistricting process

As districts within AISD are redrawn, the board of trustees will get legal assistance from a firm it has not yet chosen.

The amended version of the planned development unit will now go to the Austin Planning Commission for review. (Rendering courtesy Austin Environmental Commission)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Austin commission OKs development plan near Lady Bird Lake; shopping center coming to Porter and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 15.

Photo of Bird Bird Biscuit
Bird Bird Biscuit opens North Austin location

Bird Bird Biscuit is opening a second location in North Austin.

Kyle Center Street Trick-or-Treat will be held Oct. 23. (Courtesy city of Kyle)
20 fall activities to do across Central Texas; Grand Donuts coming to Georgetown and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Early voting starts Oct. 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Travis County early voting begins Oct. 18

There are 27 polling locations throughout the county.

This inaugural festival will feature events for families and their furry friends. (Courtsey/Puptopia Fest)
6 Central Austin October events

Six events ranging from a brewery festival to a family-friendly garden tour.

Josh LaRue said he grew up listening to music and loves to help people find new favorites. 
(Photos by Darcy Sprague/Community Impact Newspaper)
Breakaway Records offers Austines a place to buy, sell used records

The store remains a staple of the North Loop neighborhood.

The Smoking Joint is now open under the umbrella of Click Click Chew virtual food hall in Cypress. (Courtesy Kirsten Gilliam)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: More restaurant, retail space could be coming to north Frisco development; Locatelli’s owners launch virtual food hall in Cypress, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 14.

Photo of a child receiving a shot
Austin Public Health prepares for possible expansion of COVID-19 vaccine to younger kids

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider authorizing Pfizer's vaccine for use in children ages 5-11 later this month.

A rendering is shown of a flexible space inside Panther Creek High School, which includes learning stairs and a collaboration board. The school's attendance zones are drawn to pull from Lone Star and Memorial high schools. (Courtesy Corgan)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Frisco ISD proposes attendance zone modifications; concerns are voiced over Grogan's Mill Village Center vacancies, plus more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 13.

200 Academy Drive could be redeveloped to bring live music and housing to the South River City neighborhood. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Planning commission OK's initial redevelopment plan for Austin Opera House revival

The project would bring a mixed-use development, including a 1,200-capacity venue and 120 new homes, to the South River City neighborhood.