HOUSTON – Houston’s top doctor Dr. David Persse warned in a news conference Friday that hospitals will soon be “overwhelmed” if the area continues its uncontrolled COVID-19 spread.
“Don’t let anybody be fooled that just because the number of deaths reporting is comparatively low that we don’t have an issue,” he said. “That’s not because the virus changed, that’s because our doctors and nurses have become more expert. … There are just about 700 people in Harris County hospital intensive care units – 700 people are fighting for their lives...and there’s another 1,600 patients who are admitted to hospitals and they’re not yet in the intensive care unit. That is a huge number of people.”
Persse continued, “At any given time if 1.5 percent of the population had COVID disease, that would fill every single adult hospital bed in the city, leaving no room for heart attacks and strokes and pregnant women who are having their babies and car accidents and everything else that continues to go on. So while most people are walking around saying, ‘I don’t know what the problem is. I don’t know anyone who is sick. I don’t know anybody who has died, I feel fine.' But the problem is that while you feel fine, you may be somebody who is infected and spreading and you may be one of the 80 percent who has minimal or no symptoms spreading the virus and if the virus continues to spread uncontrolled like it is now, we will rapidly approach a situation where our hospital partners, who have -- in spite of the truly tremendous work that they have done to take care of everybody who needs a hospital bed -- they’re going to be overwhelmed, there is a limit to the miracles that they can perform. So we need to keep ahead of this.”
“So I just want to put in perspective for people who may not see what the issue is,” Persse said. “And you’re right, in your experience you may not know anyone who is sick, and you may not know anyone who has died -- yet.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner began the press conference Friday afternoon with some sobering news: two municipal employees -- who were actively working as recently as June and July – had died of the virus.
After discussing the latest COVID-19 numbers of new cases and deaths, Turner told the Houston area to wear masks, stay home and avoid large crowds. He urged people this weekend to avoid barbecue parties, swimming pool parties and not go out to large crowds.
“We know that it’s the right thing to do to slow down the spread of this virus,” he said. “The virus is running rampant and we are paying the price in one way or another.”
Watch the full press conference below.