AUSTIN, Texas - In a Travis County Commissioners Court briefing, Dr. Mark Escott said the coronavirus caseload and hospitalizations in Austin-Travis County are becoming more of a concern.
“Our hospital admissions have increased 90 percent since May 31. Our ICU bed occupancy have increased 150 percent since May 31, and our ventilator use has increased more than 75 percent since May 31,” said Escott.
There are still hospital beds available, with patients only using around 10 percent of the capacity. But how long will that last?
“We are concerned because of the exponential nature of this pandemic. It won’t stay at 140 or ten percent. It’ll go from 10 to 30 percent to 70 to 120 percent very quickly,” said Escott.
Sunday was the highest single-day spike at 506 new cases. However, the most recent number was just 129. Mayor Steve Adler said that was incorrect. In fact, 129 is just a fraction of the real count. “We are not getting all the cases logged in that we want to get logged in every day,” said Adler.
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He said the city was so inundated with new cases Sunday, they couldn’t log them all. The tests come from many labs, some who still use fax.
“Most young people don't even know what a fax machine is. It's like a teletype. It's archaic. How is it possible that the great state of Texas which prides itself on being advanced in some areas, is still using this incredibly crude technology?” said Commissioner Brigid Shea.
“The state has required digital reporting, unfortunately, it hasn't translated it into happening. It is very frustrating for me,” said Escott, who added he and staff spent all day Sunday manually logging the cases. He said he is hoping the state can step in and do more to update old technology.
“Do we need to issue a court order to do this? I’m not sure but it is causing a backlog which is impacting people’s notification that they are positive, it is impacting our ability to contact trace in a timely fashion,” said Escott.
As the city struggles to put out case info in a timely manner, the mayor's order for businesses to require masks officially takes effect. Establishments had until June 23 to adopt a safety plan and require mask use.
“Our ability to be able to make it mandatory again in this city, even though we are working through businesses not directly to individuals I think is important,” said Adler.
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