Austin, Texas – As our community decks their halls this holiday season, Austin Public Health (APH) wants to remind everyone that your decisions today, tomorrow, and over the course of the next week will greatly impact the trajectory of the virus in Austin-Travis County. This is underscored by new analysis from the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.
Their analysis suggests that we could exceed hospital intensive care unit capacity as soon as Jan. 7 if we don't slow the transmission of the virus.
Yesterday, APH announced the transition into Stage 5 of the Risk-Based Guidelines, which was followed by updated Orders from the City of Austin and Travis County. In Stage 5, our community must act and should:
Limit dining and shopping to essential trips
Avoid non-essential travel
Businesses are recommended to operate through contactless options (I.e. curbside, delivery)
To minimize the spread of COVID-19 and ensure everyone has a safe and healthy holiday season, APH is also offering risk guidance for gatherings. Learn more about how to have a safe season on the Holiday Safety Guidance page.
"We urge you to think of your family and your friends as you contemplate your holiday plans," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "We want to be able to celebrate many holidays to come and to do that we need to stay home and stay safe this year."
Austin-Travis County Healthcare Projections Data
The UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium recently released COVID-19 healthcare projections for Austin under three winter holiday transmission scenarios. The scenarios follow an estimation that after the Thanksgiving holiday, we saw a spike in transmission, and the winter holidays will produce a similar spike. The model projections for reaching ICU capacity are as follows:
Current transmission rate (estimated Dec. 19, 2020): A 32% chance that the COVID-19 ICU census will reach the estimated capacity of 200 by Jan. 7, with the median not reaching 200 by Jan. 20 (95% prediction interval: Dec. 31-undetermined).
One-week spike in transmission: A 36% chance that the COVID-19 ICU census will reach the estimated capacity of 200 by Jan. 7, with a median date of hitting 200 of Jan. 14 (95% prediction interval: Dec. 30-undetermined).
Two-week spike in transmission: A 39% chance that the COVID-19 ICU census will reach the estimated capacity of 200 by Jan. 7, with a median date of hitting 200 of Jan. 11 (95% prediction interval: Dec. 30-undetermined).
"The UT modeling data can be impacted by our personal behaviors and collective community action," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "Let's come together to change the projections and choose health this holiday season."
For more information about COVID-19, visit AustinTexas.gov/COVID19.