City officials urge continued efforts to stop COVID-19 spread

New model data from UT shows danger of overwhelming the region's hospital capacity

Talk 1370 Newsroom
March 26, 2020 - 3:59 pm
Coronavirus COVID-19

AUSTIN ( -- City and county officials continue to emphasize the importance of following the area's "Stay Home, Work Safe" order and stopping the spread of COVID-19, as new model data from the University of Texas shows what could happen to the area's hospitals if the disease continues to spread.

The UT research, which was developed using a pandemic-planning tool, projects possible scenarios based on percentage reduction of social contacts. The model demonstrates a relationship between social distancing and cumulative COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths and that without stringent social distancing, COVID-19 may overwhelm hospital capacities in the Austin metropolitan area by this summer.

Prelilminary data from the university's analysis were shared with city officials and were released to the public Thursday.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations forecast model
University of Texas

While researchers emphasize the preliminary data is not set in stone and is based on many assumptions that can change, officials say the results mirror similar models nationwide.

"These are unprecedented times – and the decisions we all make now will help save lives, reduce potential overcrowding at our area hospitals, and lessen the strain on our public health workers," Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. "I am calling on everyone in Austin to think of their loved ones - and those working hard each day to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community – and carry on accordingly."

"The data from the University of Texas is a sobering reminder that we must do more as a region to protect one another and prevent the spread of COVID-19," Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. "I know this is going to be a difficult time for our local economy and community, but the sacrifices we make now will save lives in the long run."

"The health of the public is our top priority," Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Interim Health Authority said. "Our staff members are working 24/7 to protect all of our loved ones and ensure that our health systems can handle COVID-19 to properly care for everyone’s family and friends. At this time, the hospitals are doing well but we need to work toward that 90% reduction through a community effort."

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