Doctors in the state are ringing the bell, warning that many facilities are close to filling up, and they're already seeing shortages of a drug that's shown promise in treating the virus, the Texas Tribune reported on Tuesday
In Hidalgo County, ambulances have been waiting as long as 10 hours to deliver patients to packed emergency rooms. One patient in Anahuac had to be flown by helicopter 120 miles to a hospital in El Campo because hospitals in his area could not take him. Hospitals in Midland and Odessa have also turned away COVID-19 patients who came from rural facilities in West Texas that couldn't offer the care they needed.
Dr. Robert Hancock, president of the Texas College of Emergency Physicians, told the Texas Tribune that, while normally overwhelmed hospitals can transfer ICU patients to other facilities, the state's current situation doesn't allow for this.
“And there really is none of that now, because everybody’s in the same boat and they’re struggling to get their own patients admitted,” he said.
The state has seen a surge in coronavirus cases since late May, a month after governor Greg Abbott allowed some businesses to begin reopening, with the number of available Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in the state falling to less than 10 per cent, according to data from the Texas Department of Health Services. As of Tuesday, only 949 ICU beds were available in the entire state.
Abbott put the reopening plan on hold last month, ordering the pause of elective surgeries to conserve hospital capacity and the closing of bars. He also put a limit of 50% occupancy in restaurants.
The governor has said he could impose another economic lockdown if the trend and surge in cases continue.
According to the latest data, the state's coronavirus cases have increased by 72 per cent and hospitalizations have gone up by 108 per cent.
More than 3,322 Texans have died from coronavirus and 275,058 have been infected.