Austin, Texas, issued an emergency alert this weekend over the “severely worsening COVID-19 situation,” which has reached a “critical” point, officials said.
Why it matters: The Warn Central Texas alert system was designed to be activated during a disaster. “Our hospitals are severely stressed and there is little we can do to alleviate their burden with the surging cases,” Austin-Travis County Health Authority’s Desmar Walkes said in a statement.
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“The public has to act now and help our we will face a catastrophe in our community that could have been avoided.”
“Hospital bed availability and critical care is extremely limited in our hospital systems, not just for COVID-19 patients, but for anyone who may need treatment,” Walkes added. “The community has to come together again and stave off disaster.”
The big picture: The alert, sent via text message, phone call and email to City of Austin and Travis County residents on Saturday, comes as the Delta variant drives a spike in COVID-19 cases across Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a state-wide ban on mask and vaccine mandates on July 29, saying “the path forward relies on personal responsibility.”
On the same day, he blocked the ground transportation of undocumented migrants detained by Customs Border Patrol, citing the surge in coronavirus cases as the basis for that order.
Go deeper: Texas schools not required to do contact tracing, new guidance says
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