Hays County’s hospitalized patients increase as Austin’s hospital beds are nearing capacity 

by Sahar Chmais 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Hays County would send COVID-19 patients that need hospitalization to Austin or San Antonio to get the enhanced care they need; there has been some recent change to the protocol. 

Hays County keeps COVID-19 patients in hospitals within its jurisdiction, except for the patients in need of intensive care, said Dr. Eric Schneider, leading epidemiologist in Hays County Health Department. 

The county has three hospitals that can check-in COVID-19 patients and they have plenty of open bed and Intensive Care Unit space, Schneider said. 

Since the epidemiologist’s last update, which was done via a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Hays County had a total of 10 hospitalizations. Of those, six stayed in Hays County and four were sent outside. 

As of Nov. 20, that number has increased to 12 hospitalized patients. 

But as COVID-19 surges across Texas, Austin’s healthcare system becomes more occupied. The city has entered Stage 4 restrictions. Austin has a capacity of nearly 2,500 staffed beds within its three healthcare systems, of which 79% are occupied. The systems also have less than 500 ICU beds, of which 85% are occupied. 

Schneider has asked that people be vigilant during the holiday season. He expects cases to continue increasing as people travel and gather indoors.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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