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The Austin, Texas, area had only six ICU beds open as of Saturday, as the state experiences a coronavirus surge driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Nearly 2.4 million people live in Texas’ “O” trauma district, which includes Austin’s Travis County and 10 other surrounding counties.
As of Saturday, only 479 of the area’s 4,523 hospital beds were available, according to data from the Texas Department of Health Services.
The data was released just two days after city health officials raised the threat warning to Stage 5 — the highest level — based on infections and hospitalizations surging to pre-vaccination levels. In a press release, city officials said the seven-day average for new hospital admissions increased 600% between July 5 and August 4.
Under Stage 5, Austin residents are advised to wear masks, even if they’re fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated residents are being told to stay home and avoid gatherings, travel, and indoor dining.
While Austin itself has a higher-than-average vaccination rate than the state at large (63.93% in Travis County compared to a state rate of 53.48%), the other counties in the trauma district have much lower vaccination rates, bringing the area’s average down to a rate of just 48.1%, according to public data published Sunday.
Mayor Steve Adler of Austin told CNN that unvaccinated people were bearing the brunt of serious COVID-19 infections in this latest surge.
“Almost everyone in our ICUs are people who are not vaccinated. We have no one on ventilators in our city that are vaccinated,” he said. “This is an epidemic among the unvaccinated.”
Multiple studies have shown that vaccinations help protect against severe disease even in the face of the Delta variant.