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Austin Health Officials Say Hospitalizations Are Leveling Off, But Facilities Are Still Stretched

Gabriel C. Pérez

Hospitalizations for the coronavirus in Austin-Travis County are plateauing, local public health officials said Wednesday.

At a news briefing, Dr. Jason Pickett, the city’s alternate health authority, described the leveling off as a “glimmer of hope,” but said it’s too early to tell if that trend will continue.

“The hospitals right now are stretched; they’re pulling staff in from hospitals in other areas and contract staffing to increase their capabilities,” he said. “[They're] looking for help from the state and from other hospitals as well.”

Pickett said the field hospital being readied at the city’s convention center will “go live” next Tuesday. The field hospital would be used to clear up space in area hospitals for critically ill patients, he said, and there are no plans to run an intensive care unit inside it. He said it will be up to hospitals to decide if they need patients to be moved to the convention center. 

“I don’t know if we’re going to be taking patients from the hospitals on day one of the alternate care site being open," he said, "but I know that we will be ready to do so."

On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County confirmed 553 new cases of coronavirus and seven new deaths caused by the virus. More than 42 people in Austin with COVID-19 have died in the last 10 days. Pickett said an increase in deaths is to be expected after recent surges in cases.

This story has been updated. 

Got a tip? Email Jerry Quijano at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.

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Jerry Quijano is the local All Things Considered anchor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.
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