On Friday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Texas climbed to 2,166, up more than 150 from just the day before. In the Houston area, the average number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in intensive care has jumped 20% in the past two weeks.
Jenny Deam is an investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She told Texas Standard host David Brown on Monday that hospitalizations in Texas broke records on four of the last five days. The good news, she said, is that Houston hospitals currently have the capacity to handle the increased number of cases. But that could change now that the state is allowing hospitals to resume elective procedures. The state temporarily put a stop to them to open up more hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
“That’s one of the things that’s making hospital administrators nervous,” Deam said.
Though increased hospitalizations have come as the state has reopened, Deam said gov. Abbott, who has pursued an aggressive reopening strategy, is “concerned but not alarmed.”
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo created a new COVID-19 threat system last week, setting the current threat at the second-highest level on the scale.
Hidalgo’s concern is shared by elected officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“We could be moving into a very difficult situation,” Deam said.
Besides the governor’s expansive reopening orders, Deam said Texans who were once quarantining themselves at home have become less vigilant as the pressure of confinement and the desire to resume work and other activities have increased.
“I think that they did take a lot of precautions, a lot of mask-wearing,” Deam said. “But I think there is a sense they’re done with that. And it’s very difficult for the general public to understand what’s going on. There are so many mixed messages.”
Web story by Shelly Brisbin.