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Delta variant may be to blame for rise in hospital admissions

Thursday, July 15, 2021 by Seth Smalley

On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes and Austin Public Health interim Director Adrienne Stirrup updated the Travis County Commissioners Court on Covid-19 and vaccination efforts in the county.

“So far, we have not received a confirmed case of the Delta variant from the state lab,” Walkes told commissioners on July 13. “However, we do know that it is in Central Texas neighboring communities. So we have to assume that we do have it here – that’s particularly evident in the fact that our case numbers are starting to rise.”

The following day, an APH press release confirmed four cases of the Delta variant in Travis County.

Although 52 percent of the county population is fully vaccinated and more than 70 percent of eligible residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine, Walkes reported a recent uptick in the number of Covid cases. Walkes stressed that all of the people who had received a single dose of the vaccine “must go and get that second shot to get fully covered.”

“We’ve now been seeing an increase in the number of cases which is something that we’ve seen in the past, after holidays where we’ve had family gatherings,” she said. “In this case, however, we’ve seen the doubling of our seven-day moving-average (of Covid hospitalizations).”

To date, the county has recorded 85,486 cases of Covid-19 and distributed over 400,000 doses of the vaccine.

“There’s been a doubling of admissions in the 20- to 29-year-old age group, and a doubling of admissions in the 70- to 79-year-old age group.” Walkes said.

“We’re seeing a representative change in the numbers as a result of gatherings that have occurred.”

Walkes additionally said that since December there have been 333 breakthrough cases – Covid cases occurring among the vaccinated population. Fourteen of those cases required hospitalization, though all patients recovered. Four were male and 10 were female. Of the three who died, two were already in long-term care facilities. Two had received the Pfizer vaccine and one received Moderna.

“We have had really good efficacy of the vaccines that we’ve deployed. Vaccines continue to be the best way to protect our community from Covid-19,” Walkes said. “We have to understand that the way out of this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated.”

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