Abbott says Texas has ‘abundant’ capacity as more coronavirus patients are hospitalized

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he is confident Texas has enough beds to handle the recent increase in the hospitalization of coronavirus patients.

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday he is confident Texas has enough beds to handle the recent increase in the hospitalization of coronavirus patients.

Abbott, along with his panel of experts, talked about the number of COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized after Texas set a record Monday for the largest single-day increase in hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

“We’re here today to let Texans know about the abundant hospital capacity that exists to treat Texans who may test positive for COVID-19,” Abbott said.

RELATED: This dashboard tracks the daily hospital capacity for general, ICU beds in the Houston area

The governor said the goal of slowing the spread of the coronavirus and preventing the state’s hospitals from being overwhelmed during the start of the outbreak has been achieved.

Dr. John Hellerstedt, state health commissioner, agreed with the governor’s assessment. However, he said the vast majority of Texans have not contracted COVID-19 and do not have a potential immunity to it. He said that means if people let down their guard, another wave of the virus is possible.

“The possibility that things could flare up again and produce a resurgence of COVID-19 that would be a stress on our system, our health care system, is still very real,” Hellerstedt said. “Don’t give up the fight.”

Gov. Abbott discusses increase in coronavirus hospitalizations

Gov. Abbott talks about the increase in coronavirus hospitalizations.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Houston region’s hospital capacity

Dr. John Zerwas, executive vice chancellor for the University of Texas System’s Office of Health Affairs, said the Houston region has 21% of hospital beds available with approximately 5,500 additional beds that can be used in the event of a surge.

According to the Texas Medical Center, about 76% of intensive-care-unit beds were in use as of 3 p.m. Tuesday. About 16% of those beds are being occupied by coronavirus patients.

Abbott said that as more people are hospitalized with COVID-19, other hospital beds are becoming available. As an example, Abbott said an additional 65 coronavirus patients were admitted in the Houston area on Tuesday with more than 100 beds becoming available at the same time.

Abbott said that about 6.3% of hospital beds in Galveston County are occupied by coronavirus patients.

Zerwas said he hoped the data he presented Tuesday sent a “comforting message” to Texans.

‘COVID-19 still exists in Texas’

Abbott stressed the importance of people following the guidelines his coronavirus task force has laid out. The guidelines include:

  • Staying home as much as possible.
  • Wearing masks as often as possible.
  • Sanitizing your hands often.
  • Practicing social-distancing.

“We are in the middle of a short period of time, where all of us have to coexist with COVID-19,” Abbott said. “The reality is COVID-19 still exists in Texas.

Abbott said the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has also sent warnings to bars that if violations of social-distancing protocols are found, the establishment’s liquor license will be pulled for 30 days.

The governor also said the county judges have the authority to levy fines against large gatherings where social-distancing protocols are not observed.

What about the increase in cases?

Abbott said the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases being reported across the state is due, in large part, to results being reported in batches instead of being spread out over several days.

The governor said he is also seeing an increase in cases in counties where young people have gone to large gatherings.