Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr Desmar Walkes said in a press release Saturday that the situation in the Texas capital was “critical.” Walkes said the availability of hospital beds and intensive care is “extremely limited in our hospital systems, not only for COVID-19 patients, but for anyone who may need treatment.”
“Our hospitals are under severe stress and there is little we can do to ease their burden as cases increase,” Walkes said. “The public must act now and help us deal with a disaster in our community that could have been avoided. ”
According to the Texas Department of Health, there are more than 3,400 active cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. The county reverted to Stage 5 COVID-19 restrictions last week, which means fully vaccinated people must wear a mask and those at high risk with underlying conditions must avoid large gatherings where masks are not needed.
Travis County had a 7-day moving average of 78 new hospital admissions and the O trauma ward area, which includes Travis and several other counties, has just six intensive care beds, according to KEYE, a subsidiary of CBS Austin. Local emergency service personnel are working to ask the state for financial assistance to help address the dangerous personnel shortage, according to KEYE.
Doctors told KEYE the healthcare system is overwhelmed and the staff shortage puts anyone in a medical emergency at risk.
“We have seen our normal daily volumes double and triple,” said Dr Daniel Roe, medical director of VIK Complete Care.
Roe said another factor contributing to the crisis is the departure of healthcare workers from the profession. “There was a lot of burnout during the COVID crisis last year and a lot of nurses left the profession and so because of that we are in a real crisis,” Roe said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has, and on Thursday, he unveiled a which ensures that students can return to school without a mask warrant or vaccination requirement.
The state’s health department tweeted last week that Texas “is facing a new wave.”