Hospital bed shortage continues as Houston area sets record for number of daily new positive COVID-19 cases

A bed shortage continues across southeast Texas
A bed shortage continues across southeast Texas

HOUSTON – The unprecedented hospital bed shortage continues across Southeast Texas as the Houston area sets a record for the number of new daily COVID-19 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Sunday, through the day, and Sunday through the night, we had a very rough sharp turn upwards so we are dealing once again with some record numbers,” said Executive V.P. of Houston Methodist, Roberta Schwartz.

According to data reported by the Texas Medical Center, on Sunday, 9,217 people tested positive for COVID in the Greater Houston area. TMC admitted 365 new COVID-19 patients. There are currently 2,650 COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals.

As of Monday afternoon, about 850 of those patients were at Houston Methodist hospitals.

In addition, nearly 200 patients at Houston Methodist are waiting for a hospital bed to become available.

“We have 193 patients in our emergency rooms who are waiting to get up to beds. About 45% of those are COVID-19 patients,” said Schwartz.

As KPRC 2 first reported last week, the Southeast Texas region is experiencing a never-before-seen hospital bed shortage.

As of Monday, the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Committee, which includes 25-counties centered around Houston, reported more than 700 patients who had hospital admission orders and were waiting for a bed.

Of those 700 patients, 613 are waiting for a non-ICU bed and 278 are COVID-19 positive. An additional 107 patients are waiting for an ICU bed and 45 of those patients are COVID-19 positive.

“The problem is, while we have the beds on paper, we don’t have the nursing staff to actually put those beds to use,” said SETRAC CEO Darrell Pile. “As soon as the state and others help us attract more agency nurses, contract nurses from other states, then we will have that staff to put that capacity, that extra capacity, to use.”

According to the Texas Dept. of State Health Services, about 2,000 agency nurses have arrived at overloaded hospitals across the state since early August. Another 3,500 nurses are expected to arrive by the end of the week.

“I’m hoping in the next two weeks we will start to see some of the numbers relax, but the problem is not going to go away,” said Pile. “We are dreadfully worried about what will happen with children and even college students now that school has started. We could have the biggest mass of kids and young adults ever in history, so we are preparing for that in hopes that we are overprepared.”