City developing emergency plan to deal with likely surge in COVID-19 cases

The latest model from UT Austin shows Austin/Travis county will likely have a surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming months. To respond to this possibility, city and county officials are creating a three-stage surge plan.

“Stage one is the hospitals themselves increasing capacity within the walls. That may be putting two beds in a room there is normally just one bed. The next phase is what we call a Type Two facility. These are facilities, we've identified six so far, where we can put additional patients who need to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority for the city of Austin.

The third stage is using type one facilities. These are large venues to place patients. The city has already identified one. 

RELATED: LIST: Confirmed coronavirus cases by county

Mayor Steve Adler talked about the UT model, in a Wednesday press conference noting that Austin is still hasn't reached its apex. “While we read in the newspaper about this being the Pearl Harbor week, while that might be true for New York, it's not true for here. As we go across the country it's going to be rolling with different cities seeing different peaks,” said Adler.

Adler said the peak in Austin may not hit until May or even going into June. Officials say social distancing is working. As of now, we've reached a 64 percent reduction in contact.

“Stay homework safe is beginning to work. We are seeing a significant reduction in our activity and it's beginning to show in our doubling rate and in our overall numbers of cases against our projected rate,” said Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Judge.

But it's going to take even more social distancing to truly allow more capacity at hospitals. That is why just in case, the city created a surge plan, and even closed parks Easter weekend to be safe, rather than sorry, come May and June.

“This weekend Easter Sunday is going to be much different than it normally is, but it needs to be different. It is dangerous for us to go back to churches right now,” said Escott.

“The life you save may not be anyone you know but it's far better for us to over-prepare and be able to hug that person sometime in the future than the alternative, said Eckhardt.



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