With ICU beds down to a single digit, Austin sounded the alarm Saturday, using its emergency alert system to let residents in the Texas capital city know that the local state of the pandemic is “dire.”
The Austin area — with a population of almost 2.4 million people — has just six intensive-care unit beds left, state health data show. A total of 313 ventilators are available.
“The situation is critical,” Public Health Medical Director Desmar Walkes said in a statement Saturday, warning of a “catastrophe” as it sent the notification to residents at noon through text messages, emails and phone calls. “Our hospitals are severely stressed and there is little we can do to alleviate their burden with the surging cases.”
The jump in cases is also seen nationwide. New infections in the U.S. have rebounded to more than 100,000 a day on average, returning to levels of the winter surge six months ago. Weekly cases on Friday passed 750,000, the most since early February, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
Cases are rising even as the US pace of vaccination started to tick up after months of decline. Daily average deaths more than doubled in the past month, even while remaining far below the levels of last winter, with health-care experts warning that the pace of new infections could trigger deadlier mutations.