Covid-19 triggers ICU crisis in US city, only 6 beds vacant for 24 lakh people of Austin

With massive surge in Covid-19 cases in the US hit by the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2, the American city of Austin on Monday had only six beds in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) in its hospitals. Austin in Texas has a population of over 24 lakh.

The ICU bed crisis in Austin was triggered by sharp rise in Covid-19 cases fuelled by the Delta variant, according to the data released by the state health department. The Delta variant was first detected in India last year.

The situation in Austin is “critical” as there are only 313 ventilators and six ICU beds available in the city which has a population of almost 2.4 million, Bloomberg reported.

“The situation is critical,” Dr Desmar Walkes, Austin’s medical director of the state’s health authority, said according to the report.

The health department in Austin also sent out a warning of a “catastrophe”. The notifications were sent to the residents in the city via emails, text messages and phone calls.

“Our hospitals are severely stressed and there is little we can do to alleviate their burden with the surging cases,” Dr Walkes said, according to the Bloomberg report.

The resurgence of Covid-19 in Texas has put some health systems in some of its cities in dire circumstances, as intensive care unit beds fill up.

“We are running out of time and our community must act now,” Dr Walkes said.

Last week, three hospital systems that serve the Austin area – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and St. David’s Healthcare – released a joint statement that said the latest Covid-19 spike had “challenged the hospital staffing”.

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”, the statement said, news agency Associated Press reported.

Another city in Texas, San Antonio, is facing a nursing shortage caused by an increase of coronavirus patients. In San Antonio, Covid-19 hospitalisations on Saturday were up by 430 per cent since the start of July.

“We have patients waiting in the lobby; we have patients in the hallway,” said Tommye Austin, the chief nurse executive for University Health, one of the largest hospitals in San Antonio.

“Every nook and cranny in this organization has a patient,” said Tommye Austin.

On Sunday, there were 6,594 people in Texas hospitals with Covid-19. This was the highest number of Covid-19 patients admitted in hospitals since February 24. State health officials reported 21 Covid-19 deaths on Sunday.

Texas has had 53,248 Covid-19 related deaths since the pandemic began last year making it the third-worst hit state in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

(With inputs from AP)

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