Austin warns of ‘catastrophe’ as Texas again becomes center of pandemic

With Covid-19 cases skyrocketing exponentially and intensive care unit capacity in hospitals dwindling to single digits, officials in the Austin area are warning of “catastrophe” as Texas again becomes an center of the pandemic.

Austin’s local governments issued an urgent message through their emergency notification system Saturday, imploring residents to stay home, mask up and get vaccinated.

The entreaty comes mere days after Austin Public Health elevated its risk-based guidance to stage 5, the highest possible tier.

“The situation is critical,” Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis county’s health authority, said in a statement. “Our hospitals are severely stressed and there is little we can do to alleviate their burden with the surging cases.”

The Texas trauma service area that includes Austin only has six available ICU beds, 499 available hospital beds and 313 available ventilators – a stunning dearth of resources for a population nearly 2.4 million strong.

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