Health officials in one Texas city are concerned by a surge in newly confirmed coronavirus cases since beginning to reopen additional businesses there.
Coronavirus cases in Austin have trended “steadily upward” since the city began reopening retail stores, restaurants, malls, and movie theaters at the beginning of May, the Austin American-Statesman reported. What’s more, the true number of coronavirus cases in the state’s capital could be seven to eight times higher than current statistics represent, according to the newspaper.
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In recent weeks, Austin and Travis County have reported some 60 new COVID-19 cases each day, with Austin on Monday reporting 88 newly confirmed coronavirus cases — the city’s highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
The record daily increase comes after the city saw some 425 new cases during the last week of May, representing the most COVID-19 cases reported in Austin in a single week to date, according to local news station CBS Austin.
“As expected, as the community started to open up, we are seeing new cases, which has trailed that policy change by about two and a half weeks,” Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said while speaking to the Austin City Council on Tuesday, according to the newspaper.
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That said, the number of new hospitalizations from the virus has remained low, with the seven-day average keeping at 10. If the average increases to 20, however, the city could possibly see a return of stricter social distancing measures in a bid to prevent local hospitals from being overwhelmed.
«It’s up to our community to make sure that we keep a lid on disease transmission,» Escott added, according to CBS Austin. «We can tolerate some uptick in hospitalizations, but we are very careful to watch the risk of [an] exponential increase in our community, which may indicate a trend towards overwhelming our healthcare system.»