‘Please stay home’: Houston doctor issues plea as hospital fills up ahead of new year

HOUSTON – A Houston doctor whose hospital is packed with coronavirus patients is pleading with people to stay home to ring in the new year.

The drive-thru testing site at the United Memorial Medical Center in northwest Houston was busy Tuesday, but it’s the situation inside the hospital that has Dr. Joseph Varon concerned.

Varon said the COVID-19 unit is almost full and the hospital is about to open another ward to be able to handle all the patients.

He said the situation has become serious because people have disregarded warnings about traveling, but that didn’t stop him from issuing his own warning.

“Coronavirus is still here,” Varon said. “It’s not going anywhere, and the fact is that we are getting people that are deadly ill in the hospital. If you can avoid going out this New Year’s, please stay home.”

Dr. Joseph Varon has been working 287 consecutive days since the pandemic started. He says people are tired of the coronavirus.

“I know we all want to go out. I’m desperate to go out and take a vacation but not yet. It will happen, everyone will get the vaccine, things will get better we can slow the virus there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Varon said.

For those hoping for a better 2021, Dr. Varon says this message is simple.

“Stay home! It’s just one year. Stay home. If you go out in a couple of weeks some of you will end up in the hospital and you might not see next New Year,” Dr. Varon.

Varon said if people must celebrate, they should do it at home with their close family and have no more than 10 people in the home.

The positivity rate in Harris County climbed to 13.4% Tuesday. That is the highest rate reported since mid-August.

About the Authors:

Aaron Barker has been a senior digital editor at KPRC 2 since 2016. As a meteorologist, he specializes in stories about the weather. He has covered Hurricane Harvey, the Astros first World Series win, the Santa Fe High School shooting, the ITC fire and Tropical Storm Imelda.