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'We're in a crisis situation,' may run out of ICU beds: Austin mayor on COVID-19

Seana Smith
·Anchor
·3 min read

As the U.S. marks its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic, more hospitals across the country are being pushed to the brink. One city that is on the verge of running out of intensive-care beds: Austin, Texas.

“We’re in a crisis situation. I am really concerned with the spike we're seeing now,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told Yahoo Finance Live. “We anticipate that we could be running out of ICU beds.”

During a press briefing last week, Austin-Travis County Interim Medical Director and Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott communicated those same concerns, saying it is “very clear to us” that the city will run out of hospital beds, and be forced to “stretch resources” in order to meet the community’s needs.

Austin recorded a record number of daily new infections last week as the city’s positivity rate reached 17.8%. The city registered its highest 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases with hospitalizations also at a new high.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 10: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) A patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lies on a bed while intubated in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, COVID-19 infections are on the rise in Houston, as the state of Texas has reached over 1,030,000 cases, including over 19,000 deaths.  (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 10: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) A patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lies on a bed while intubated in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, COVID-19 infections are on the rise in Houston, as the state of Texas has reached over 1,030,000 cases, including over 19,000 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

“It’s a spike that probably initiated over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday, and then with the Christmas and New Year’s Eve bumps on top of that, we're seeing unprecedented numbers,” said Adler. “We're about to stand up at our auxiliary facility to provide some relief.”

Disputes over COVID-19 restrictions

The worsening pandemic has put local and state officials at odds. Austin attempted to implement tighter restrictions over the holiday, arguing the state’s current policies have done little to curb the rapid spread within the city. But Texas Gov. Greg Abott, who has long resisted tighter restrictions statewide, blocked that effort.

“We tried to impose greater restrictions in our city but the governor took us to court and stopped us over the New Year's Eve holiday,” said Adler, referring to the orders he attempted to issue alongside Travis County Judge Andy Brown, preventing restaurants and bars from offering dine-in services from 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 3.

There are over 21 million cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
There are over 21 million cases in the U.S. (Graphic: David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

With his hands tied, Adler, along with other city officials and health experts, are pleading with the public for help as the city does everything it can to address the current crisis.

“We're making pretty urgent appeals to our community to wear masks whenever they're out of their homes, to limit contact with other folks... We're looking at everything that we can do to try to keep people safe and save lives,” he said.

Seana Smith anchors Yahoo Finance Live’s 3-5 p.m. ET program. Follow her on Twitter @SeanaNSmith

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