A Message to the Community from Travis County Physicians

August 16, 2021

The current surge in COVID-19 cases in the Austin area is severe and is having dire consequences that could impact patient outcomes.

  • Physicians in the Austin metro area are seeing as many hospitalizations, and more patients requiring ICU care or ventilators, than at any other time in the pandemic
  • Hospitals are currently at, or over, their staffed capacity with very few open beds available across the entire region.
  • Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are working extra shifts and are straining to meet the overwhelming needs in the hospitals.
  • Unlike previous surges, there is a shortage of trained medical professionals to staff our hospitals. This problem is not unique to Austin, which further amplifies the shortage.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations aren’t just a problem of the unvaccinated, they also strain the resources that are needed to treat other “normal” medical conditions and emergencies.

To avoid this, we urge the community to recognize this current crisis and take the simple and familiar steps that are proven to be effective against the spread of COVID-19.

  • We must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands and be cautious about how we gather.
  • Because the Delta variant is the most contagious variant yet and has the potential for spread by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, we encourage everyone to wear a mask in public while indoors and outdoors when unable to socially distance.
  • In addition, those who are not fully vaccinated should limit gathering with those outside of their household, especially while indoors.

Vaccination is the safest and most effective way by which we can truly be DONE with the virus and get back to normal.

  • With over 350 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine given in the US, evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines is overwhelming.
  • Being fully vaccinated results in an 8-fold reduction of having symptomatic COVID-19, a 25-fold reduction in being hospitalized and a 25-fold reduction in death from COVID-19.
  • Approximately 90% of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals are unvaccinated. The percentage of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients in our ICUs is even higher. We strongly encourage every eligible person to get vaccinated – immediately.

As a community, we are at a tipping point.

  • If there is not substantial and immediate public behavior change leading to a decrease in cases and hospitalizations, our ability to care for COVID-19 patients as well as patients requiring routine hospital care will be compromised.
  • If we continue giving COVID-19 an opportunity to spread, it will continue to mutate, and it will keep coming back to us in the form of more contagious and deadly variants.
  • Alternatively, each one of us can do our part as a unified community to stop the spread, break the cycle, and defeat this virus once and for all. The choice is ours.

The Travis County Medical Society is a voluntary professional membership organization of more than 4,100 physicians serving Austin and surrounding counties since 1853.