Austin hospitals taking in COVID patients from across Texas

AUSTIN ( -- Austin-area hospitals are taking in patients from across the state, despite concerns about increasing COVID-19 case counts locally that could strain those hospital resources.

Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott, in his weekly briefing to Travis County Commissioners Tuesday morning, said more patients are expected to make their way here - because beds are available.

"It’s important to note that our hospitals locally have received a number of patents, 13 patients from other jurisdictions, primarily El Paso, and also other jurisdictions in West Texas and other parts of the state because they are COVID positive," Escott said. "We have also seen patients transferred here for other health care needs because there is no capacity for any patients in the ICU."

As of Tuesday evening, the 7-day average of new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Austin metro area is at 32 - more than double the rate from early October, when the average was at 12.

El Paso has been hit particularly hard, with nearly 35,000 active COVID-19 cases in the region as of Tuesday night. That's roughly the total number of cases Travis County has seen since the pandemic began.

Escott said El Paso's situation serves as a warning to the Austin area, to limit the risks people take over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

"The real threat is over Thanksgiving," Escott said. "What we are trying to prevent is this El Paso pattern from happening here, if we were to let this go, to this extent we are talking about needing more than 600 ICU beds and more than 2,400 hospital beds, which is about triple of what we think we actually have."