AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has exceeded 13,000 hospitalizations for COVID-19, the virus continues to surge in the state, and on Tuesday Austin Public Health interim health authority Dr. Mark Escott issued a dire warning.

Escott warned that at the current rate the Austin-Travis County region could exceed intensive care unit capacity by January 15, which is a week from Friday.

On Tuesday, the region reported a record 522 hospitalizations, which marks a 145% increase in hospitalizations since December 4. On Wednesday that number increased to 574. Currently, 161 patients are in intensive care for COVID-19, which is an increase of more than 105% since December 4.

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Travis County’s positivity rate now sits at 8.3%. Escott said there is a strong possibility the county could reach 20% by next week, which would make it difficult to control spread in places including schools and nursing homes.

Austin-Travis County Tuesday reported 752 new COVID-19 cases. Escott characterized the statewide surge as a state of emergency with no signs of slowing down. He also warned that we will likely see post-Christmas impacts this week and post-New Year’s impacts next week.

Many Texas students began returning to the classroom this week and that includes those students in Austin ISD. The district is holding in-person classes but the option for at-home learning remains. Escott suggested the brakes be applied to in-person instruction.

He recommended parents avoid letting their kids take the bus to school or carpooling. He additionally recommended parents transition their children to virtual learning for at least two weeks.

Austin-Travis County remains in Stage 5, the most severe stage of Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines.