Half of Texas’ 22 trauma service regions report that they are out of ICU beds. Major hospitals in major cities like Houston and Laredo report 95 percent capacity rates
Houston’s Harris Health System reported Tuesday that one in four patients at its two hospitals had tested positive for COVID-19. Administrators began preparing tents to accommodate the overflowing patients. Five hospitals in Austin reported that they had reached 90 percent capacity, while two other hospitals stated that they have no ICU beds. Half of Texas’ 22 trauma service regions reported having 10 or fewer ICU beds as of Sunday. Nearly 10,000 COVID-19 patients had flooded into Texas’ ICUs.
Officials from the state’s public health and hospitals said that the Delta virus of the virus caused an even faster rise in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks than any other time during the pandemic.
According to federal data, at least 53 Texas hospitals have no ICU available as of August 5.
On Sunday, the Ben Taub Hospital’s Houston intensive care unit reported that it was at 95 percent capacity. 27 percent of this being used for COVID-19 patients. Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital administrators stated that they had zero ICU beds and were at 100% utilization Sunday as hospitals are set up outside.
“This surge is the most rapid and aggressive we have ever seen. Nearly all our hospitalizations are caused by unvaccinated patients who develop severe illness,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin Travis County’s health authority, said to local reporters last week. “ICU staff are seeing an increase in the number of patients in our hospitals. The ICU patients are more sick and spend longer in hospital than in previous surges. This puts greater strain on hospital resources.
Although COVID-19 patients account for less than one third of all hospital beds used, Texas has an astounding 87.1 percent utilization rate. This is the highest rate since March 2020, when the pandemic began. COVID-19 patients occupy 14.1 percent of these bed spaces.
The surge in overflowing hospital patients has been coupled with Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on allowing local government officials to enforce mask mandates. Doctors now fear that hospitals will become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, in addition to other health crises.
In an interview with KRIS-TV, Dr. Jennifer Shuford, chief epidemiologist at the Texas Department of State Health Services stated that “we need to ensure that there are beds and hospitals and personnel in hospitals available to care for people who don’t just have COVID-19 but…all of these other conditions.” We are worried that hospitals will become overwhelmed by the increasing number of hospitalizations.
Daily Reuters reach out to Texas Department of Health officials to get more details on the Delta variant surge and to find out what hospitals are doing to accommodate the skyrocketing patient population.