Austin reportedly only has 16 ICU beds left due to COVID surge

Central Texas is now facing the lowest staffed ICU bed capacity since the beginning of the pandemic with only 16 staffed beds available, according to Austin Public Health (APH)

The 16 ICU beds are the only ones available for as many as 11 counties with over 2.3 million residents. 11 county Trauma Service Region O (TSA-O), which includes Austin and provides service to over 2.3 million residents, is facing low ICU bed capacity similar to the beginning of the pandemic, according to APH.

In a joint statement by Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White, and St. David’s Healthcare, the hospitals noted, "The latest COVID-19 spike is putting extraordinary pressure on our hospitals, emergency departments, and healthcare professionals, and it has further challenged hospital staffing due to a longstanding nursing shortage."

"We are running out of time and our community must act now," Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority said. "Our ICU capacity is reaching a critical point where the level of risk to the entire community has significantly increased, and not just to those who are needing treatment for COVID. If we fail to come together as a community now, we jeopardize the lives of loved ones who might need critical care."

"We know our community has been resilient in fighting this pandemic over the last 18 months, and we are yet again calling on everyone to help one another by taking action that can slow this surge," Adrienne Sturrup, Interim APH Director said. "Everyone is exhausted at this point, but we will continue to lose loved ones if we don’t heed the warnings the data is showing us and take the appropriate actions of getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and staying home if we are sick."

Only 63.12% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to APH, leaving our community vulnerable to new variants of the disease, and contributing to a dramatic increase in the positivity rate that has now reached 13.7% - the highest since early January 2021.

Austin-Travis County is in Stage 4 of the Risk-Based Guidelines 

Austin-Travis County is currently in Stage 4 but could move to Stage 5 as hospitalizations continue to rise.

The APH Risk-Based Guidelines chart outlines recommended behavior for individuals at different stages of community spread. The most recent guidelines recommend everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks and follow the basic protocols of social distancing and handwashing.

These guidelines apply to gatherings, dining, shopping, and traveling. Those unvaccinated should test for COVID-19 and if the test results are negative, and it is medically feasible, get the vaccine as soon as possible.

Testing Information - Showing symptoms? Exposed to a positive case? Get tested and quarantine.  

APH manages testing sites and mobile clinics across Austin and Travis County. Appointments are not required for the two testing sites currently open however, individuals are encouraged to schedule a COVID-19 testing appointment. 

Those who do not have access to the internet can call 3-1-1 to complete the assessment. Testing is also available through local pharmacies. Those with health insurance should call their doctor or insurance company to review their options.  

Vaccinations are free and at a location nearby. No identification is required. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require identification nor insurance. Residents can locate providers in their area using or they can text their zip code to 438829 (822862 in Spanish) to find a nearby clinic.  

For additional business guidance, visit for recommendations to help prioritize the health and safety of employees and customers.  

Additional information regarding COVID-19, testing, and vaccinations can be found at

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