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.



MOST RECENT

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Huston-Tillotson University is one of three Austin sites tapped to move toward national historic designation in September. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
East Austin university and high school stadium, Allandale 'air-conditioned village' move toward national historic recognition

The former Anderson High School stadium and Huston-Tillotson University could soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; former Round Rock Steak N' Shake to become Whataburger and more top Central Texas news

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

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

The new signs are visible at the intersections of San Antonio Street and Sandra Muraida Way. (Courtesy Austin Transportation Department)
New parking signs in downtown Austin will update number of available spaces for 3 lots in real time

The signs provide real-time parking information for the Austin City Hall, Austin Central Library and Seaholm lots. They will begin to show the real-time data next week.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.