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UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium speaks on ICU capacity predictions

The associate director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium said projections show, if trends continue, Austin will hit ICU capacity in the coming weeks.

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium is a group of researchers who provide data-driven analysis to guide public health officials and policymakers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers make projections for the Austin-area, Texas, and the country. 

Credit: UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium

The above projections are from early December, when the median projection was trending downward for Austin-area hospitalizations. 

The projections took a turn in January. Below are the projections from Jan. 4, 2021.

Credit: UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium

"The City of Austin saw an increase in transmission more than our model expected basically from the Thanksgiving break, and that increase seems to have continued through December," said Dr, Spencer Fox, the associate director of the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. "And we're not quite sure whether we'll see a similar increase from Christmas and New Year's Eve."

Fox said we are on a completely different course now than we were in December. 

RELATED: Austin area expected to reach ICU capacity before mid-January, APH says

"What we're seeing is not necessarily the very quick exponential increase that we saw in the summer, but a more slow-and-steady rise and just continued rise over the course of the past few weeks," said Fox. "And if that continues, our projections are suggesting we'll hit ICU capacity in the city in the next few weeks."

Credit: UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium

Fox said their projections still have a lot of uncertainty in them and said any of the spaghetti lines, the gray lines in the corner, are a possibility.

"There's a part of me and the consortium that has seen this time and again and how the pandemic really can change on a dime in local communities," said Fox. "And we've seen this time and time again around the country. And I think the important thing to note is that while the pandemic can quickly become out of control in local regions, it also quickly become under control."

Fox said now is the time to slow transmission in the community.

According to a joint statement from Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare on Tuesday, currently, the 2,473 staffed beds within all three healthcare systems are 79% occupied and the 483 ICU beds are 88% occupied. 

WATCH: Austin-Travis County positivity rate could soon reach 20%

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