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Austin officials alarmed at recent spike in local coronavirus hospitalizations

A big uptick in new COVID-19 patients needing hospital care has officials worried about local hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

AUSTIN, Texas — No matter where you look at the data – from new cases to patients sent to hospitals – the story is the same. Over the past seven days, more people are being diagnosed with the coronavirus and more are in need of hospital care.

In Hays County on Thursday, there was a stunning number of new confirmed cases – 82 in a single day, mainly among people between ages 20 and 29. It’s the greatest single-day increase recorded in Hays County.

And in Travis County, a record number of patients were admitted to area hospitals on Wednesday, 24 in one day. Usually new admissions average around eight to 10 a day.

“This is a flashing yellow light, so I’m concerned,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said on Thursday. “Everyone must all do their part to remain vigilant.”

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The primary concern now is if local hospitals can handle a steady influx of new coronavirus patients. If the area reaches at least 20 new admissions a day for seven straight days, health experts say area hospitals could get overrun.

Local officials are calling on residents to continue social distancing, wear face masks and to wash hands frequently.

It also appears unlikely that Austin’s long-standing stay-home order will be allowed to expire next Monday, according to Adler. There were 129 new COVID-19 cases reported in Travis County on Thursday, continuing the trend of higher numbers of daily cases.

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