June 24, 2020
Texas Hospitals and Doctors Shift to Crisis Gear
Amid Novel Test of System in Second Virus Surge
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
Texas health care professionals vowed to ward off a meltdown on Wednesday with hospitals on the verge of overflowing amid a river of patients who've been infected by the coronavirus in the second major outbreak.
While hospital administrators were guardedly confident about the system's ability to accommodate the COVID-19 resurgence that's turned Texas into the nation's top hot spot, the leader of the state's largest physicians organization acknowledged that the pressure is on with the potential for catastrophic consequences that will require a massive juggling effort to forestall.
“In many parts of our state, COVID-19 is making a terrifyingly strong return. Hospitals are activating surge plans to make room for more seriously ill patients – whether with COVID-19, other diseases, or significant trauma," Texas Medical Association President Diana Fite said.
“If we – and that includes physicians, hospital administrators, and other health care leaders – don’t handle this correctly, the consequences will be severe for us, our patients, and large swaths of the Texas health care system," the TMA chief added.
The nation's second largest state, Texas broke the daily record for hospitalizations on Wednesday for the 13th day in a row with 5,489 while setting another new mark in the count of new cases with 5,551 in a 24-hour period ending at mid-afternoon. The state has reported more than 11,000 new inflections in the past two days.
California and Florida - the first and third largest states in the U.S. - reported their highest daily infection tallies as well today.
The top official for the Texas Hospital Association said that the medical facilities around the state are bracing for an inundation of people who've fallen ill with the coronavirus and are prepared to provide "substantial capacity" without elaborating on what the possible ceiling could be in terms of the supply of beds for infected patients and the demand for them.
THA President Ted Shaw said that hospitals have 15 percent of their beds reserved for COVID-19 patients and the ability to come up with more if necessary delaying some procedures for unrelated conditions and shuffling resources to fit the need.
“Hospitals are committed to managing capacity so patients get the right care at the right time for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 medical care. This will help ensure adequate space, staffing and supplies are available for COVID-19 patients,”
“Through these actions, Texas hospitals have been and will continue to nimbly manage increasing patient volumes as they occur in certain areas of the state. Hospitals are anchors in Texas communities and always are ready to respond to the unique needs of the people they serve.”
The Texas Medical Center had transformed into full-scale crisis mode by Wednesday afternoon with beds that are normally reserved for children freed up for COVID-19 patients of all ages.
Houston has its second worst day of the pandemic up to now with 1,374 new coronavirus cases just one day after almost 2,000 were recorded there.
The virus surged to new heights in Hidalgo and Cameron counties in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state in Lubbock County as well. Ellis County recorded one of the single highest daily spikes on Wednesday with 145 new cases after setting a record last on June 9 with only 35.
McLennan County fell one infection short of the record that had been set there on Monday. Parker County on the western edge of the Fort Worth had almost three times as many new cases as it had when the record there had been set on Tuesday.