Travis County reaches 'grim milestone' of 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

Photo of three women wearing masks with bowed heads
Baylor Scott & White Health employees participate in a moment of silence for people affected by COVID-19 on Sept. 3. (Courtesy Baylor Scott & White Health)

Baylor Scott & White Health employees participate in a moment of silence for people affected by COVID-19 on Sept. 3. (Courtesy Baylor Scott & White Health)

Austin Public Health announced Sept. 8 that Travis County had surpassed 1,000 deaths from COVID-19, calling it "another grim milestone" for the community.

The announcement follows a week that saw the most deaths of any time during the coronavirus pandemic with 36 coronavirus patients in the Austin area dying during the week leading up to Sept. 3, according to APH. Twelve of those deaths took place Sept. 2, a tie for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day in Travis County.

“Almost all of our recent deaths are unvaccinated,” interim APH Director Adrienne Sturrup said in a statement. “When you get vaccinated, you are showing your kids leadership. When you wear a mask, you are teaching them to respect being a part of the collective community. You are instilling values they will carry with them throughout their lives.”

The frequency of deaths and severe cases has remained high in the Austin area despite some improvement in overall hospitalization rates. Austin-area hospitals have a seven-day moving average of 57.4 coronavirus-related hospital admissions per day, down from an Aug. 11 peak of 83.6. However, 205 intensive care unit beds in the area are occupied by COVID-19 patients, surpassing the allotted amount of 200, and the Texas Department of State Health Services reported over Labor Day weekend that Texas Trauma Service Region O, which includes Travis County and 10 other counties, had zero available staffed ICU beds, a first for any time during the pandemic.

"This puts everyone’s wellbeing on the line, whether you are in critical condition from COVID, a car accident or some other medical issue," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in an emailed letter to constituents. "Certainly, no one should be turned away, so make sure you seek help you need. But being this overloaded impacts the quality of the care that can be received."
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.


 Redistricting is one of the items on the Texas Legislature's third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Senate releases proposed redistricting maps as special session begins

Redistricting is one of the items on the third special session, and the state Senate released proposed maps on Sept. 18.

Photo of the Travis County sign
Travis County approves fiscal year 2021-22 tax rate

The newly approved rate, paired with higher home appraisal rates, will result in an increase in taxes for many homeowners.

Photo of people attending ACL Fest
City of Austin approves ACL health and safety plan, holds off on final permit

Austin Public Health gave ACL the go-ahead to allow proof of vaccination in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test, but asked organizers to require masking in some areas.

Hundreds of complaints were logged against the Austin Police Department last year related to protests against police brutality and systemic racism. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police oversight office challenges APD handling of most 2020 protest complaints

Austin's Office of Police Oversight objected to several aspects of the police department's approach to classifying and investigating protest-related grievances.

Q2 Stadium at night
Mixed-use development Verde Square to bring hotel, office space to site next to Q2 Stadium

Verde Square, a mixed-use development, is expected to break ground on construction by the end of 2022.

Photo of ACL Fest
Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

Zilker Park closes in preparation for Austin City Limits Music Festival

Austin city staff and officials are pursuing additional protections related to mold issues in rental housing. (Courtesy city of Austin)
City pursuing improvements to handling of Austin renters' mold complaints

New recommendations from a report launched in the wake of Winter Storm Uri detail adjustments Austin could make to its mold response.

Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin head in for their first day of school Aug. 17. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD's COVID-19 rate lower than nearby districts after first month of school

Austin ISD recorded more cases in the first month of this school year than in all of the 2020-2021 school year. Still, Austin ISD saw a lower percentage of cases in students than surrounding school districts.

Wayback Burgers specializes in cooked-to-order burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes. (Courtesy Wayback Burgers)
Wayback Burgers coming to Leander; fire kills 75 dogs in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Screen shot of Dr. Desmar Walkes speaking
Austin ICUs remain crowded with COVID-19 patients, delaying some critical care

Within the past week, there was a waiting list of patients to be transferred into Austin-area ICUs, Austin Public Health leaders said.

The city of Austin this summer cleared four unregulated homeless encampments and shifted dozens of residents into shelters. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house thousands of Austin's homeless people taking shape, but outlook for local success, project funding still unclear

The strategy's first housing benchmark fell short in June, and updates on how the estimated $515 million needed for housing and services will be spent are overdue.