Texas hospitals move to expand ICU capacity amid COVID-19 spike

  • Texas hospitals are urgently expanding ICU capacity as the number of new coronavirus cases increases in the state.
  • There are about 5,000 new cases a day in the state, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Sunday.
  • Other states, such as Florida and Arizona, are also registering an alarming growth in infections.
  • Abbott unexpectedly ordered Texas bars to close on Friday. In California, authorities have also reinstated blockade measures for some counties.
  • Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.

Texas hospitals are expanding their intensive care unit (ICU) capacity to cope with a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients.

The state, which was one of the first to facilitate blocking measures, is currently experiencing an alarming increase in new coronavirus infections.

It is one of the most affected areas in a new wave of coronavirus cases in the United States. Arizona and Florida have also seen strong increases.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott updated the media on the state’s case load on Sunday. He said: “In the past few weeks, the daily number of cases has gone from an average of about 2,000 to over 5,000.”

At the press conference, Abbott joined Vice President Mike Pence and coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, and announced new restrictions to curb the spread of the disease. The measures include closing bars, and asking Texans to wear face masks in public and avoid crowds.

Last week, Abbot suspended elective surgeries in several areas of the state, including Houston, as hospitals struggle to cope with the growing number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

In several counties in the state, hospitals and local officials are trying to increase the hospital’s capacity, looking for places like convention centers and stadiums that could potentially act as temporary ICU wards, the Texas Tribune reported last week. According to the report, they also seek to recruit thousands of volunteer nurses.

In a report from Houston Methodist Hospital, the New York Times described how nurses were called for additional shifts, labs were reused for coronavirus testing, and the empty space was repositioned to contain ICU patients.

Hospitalizations have nearly tripled in the city in the past month, Click2Houston reported, and a children’s hospital is now admitting adult patients to cope with the increase.

Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Authority told the store: “There is a limit to the number of hospital beds we currently have and hospitals are seriously considering activating their augmentation plans.”

PolicyLab experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are modeling the growth of coronavirus cases in the US and have projected that Texas is among the states where health care services could soon be overwhelmed by the rapid increase in the number of cases.

“We have reached a point in the communities of Arizona, Texas and Florida, where the epidemic is accelerating at an alarming rate and can rapidly overwhelm local health care systems, indicating the need to pause the reopening of plans.” said David Rubin, director of PolicyLab and professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Last week, the Houston-based Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical complex, raised an alarm when it recorded that 100% of its ICU capacity was full.

On Sunday, the medical center stopped publishing data on its ICU capacity on its website, raising concerns that it would try to hide the crisis it was facing, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

According to the Chronicle, the data was removed after a conversation with Governor Abbott, in which he expressed “disgust with negative headlines about the ICU’s ability.”

The hospital, in a statement to NBC News, said it was preparing to publish information that more accurately reflected the situation in its ICU unit.

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