Houston area has adequate supply of hospital beds and ventilators, officials says

HOUSTON – In Houston, the virus isn’t expected to peak for another two weeks. When it does, will there be enough hospital beds and ventilators available for all the virus victims who will need them? Current numbers suggest there actually may be a surplus.

In New York City, even as the number of COVID-19 cases appears to have peaked, hospitals are still fearful they may run short of beds and life saving ventilators.

But in Houston, where coronavirus cases are expected to peak April 23, health officials are cautiously optimistic there will be enough of both as cases mount.

Right now in Harris and eight surrounding counties, hospitals have about 7,200 patients taking up bed space, which is only about 65% of normal capacity. Darrell Pile, CEO of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council, said that means at present, 4,000 beds are available and an additional 4,000 can be added if needed.

“Sixty-five percent is remarkably low. The healthcare system we have is managing this very well,” Pile said.

As for ventilators, in the same county areas, about 600 patients are currently on ventilators, with about 800 available for use.

“So if this does peak, does spike, I think we’ll be in good condition to manage this spike,” Pile said.

Right now, only about 1,200 patients who are either confirmed to have the virus or suspected of having it are hospitalized. A low number compared to the beds available

Still it’s difficult to determine exactly how many beds and ventilators will be needed when the virus peaks. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation with the University of Washington, estimates the state will need 3,400 beds by the end of April.

But that estimate and other are based on the number of confirmed cases reported and because Texas lags other states in testing to confirm virus cases, the estimate may be too low.