Austin Public Health warns Travis County cannot afford missteps in July 4th celebrations

Austin Public Heath warns any missteps made during the 4th of July can have dire consequences for weeks to come.

Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said people need to stay at home this holiday weekend. "We cannot afford the missteps right now not this weekend. The consequences will be dire for us. It means that we are going to exceed capacity in our hospitals,” said Dr. Escott. “It means that we will have people die that don’t need to die and it will also mean we will have a month to reflect on that."

RELATED: Austin Public Health addressing steps being taken to curb spread of COVID-19

Tuesday the county saw more than 65 hospital admissions in a single day. Dr. Mark Escott will recommend the city and the county place a stay at home order if Austin Public Health sees a rolling average of 70 admissions or more a day. Three local healthcare systems are reporting reaching about 70% occupancy.

However, Escott said he is not concerned with the number of beds or ventilators available but the number of staff needed to treat people. "I was refreshed at my meeting this weekend with the White House Coronavirus Task Force that the federal government has agreed to provide additional healthcare personnel from the United States military if needed to help further supplement staffing of our hospitals as well as our alternate care site,” Escott said.

RELATED: Travis County to send COVID-19 emergency alert reminding community to practice good hygiene

The convention center is slated to become an alternate site. Austin Public Health says the county may begin using the facility before hospitals reach capacity to help alleviate some burden.

COVID-19 testing is in high demand, health officials are now asking people who do have insurance to go through their doctors and utilize other private testing sites because public entities are reaching capacity.

RELATED: CommUnityCare asks people with health insurance to find alternative COVID-19 testing

“As soon as we have additional capacity we will provide testing or allow for testing for asymptomatic folks,” said Dr. Escott. “We have to make sure that those who are symptomatic, those who are at higher risk can get a test done and we can get those results back in a timely fashion.”

Austin Public Health has developed a task force to gather data from different testing providers across the area, To get an exact number of how many tests are being administered and how much more is needed.


At this time Dr. Escott said his concern lies with San Antonio and Bexar County. Neighbors to the south have been seeing more than a thousand COVID-19 cases a day.

"If our neighbors are in stress and they exceed their capacity it seems likely that overflow of those patients may come to Travis County,” Escott said.


FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at