Laredo Hospitals Struggle To Find Staff And Space To Care For Surging COVID-19 Cases

Medical teams from San Antonio are providing short-term help, but the city’s two hospitals still face staff shortages.

By Jill Ament & Kristen Cabrera & Michael MarksJune 26, 2020 7:02 am,

In Laredo, officials rushed this week to increase hospital capacity to care for an increasing number of COVID-19 patients. Hospitals need to free up more beds, but also face a staffing shortage, as some medical personnel haven’t been able to work because they contracted COVID-19.

Maria Méndez is with Report for America covering the border and business for Texas Public Radio. She told Texas Standard host David Brown on Friday that city officials sought help from the state to increase capacity at two Laredo hospitals. 

“They were able to ask for help from the state, and got a medical surge team from San Antonio,” she said. 

Méndez said dozens of doctors in Laredo contracted COVID-19 in May.

In addition to more medical personnel, Laredo officials were hoping to divert local COVID patients to other hospitals in the state. Méndez said this hasn’t been possible because other facilities in the state are also near capacity.

“The mayor is also calling for the private sector to help attract more medical personnel and staff to the area, longer term, so the city doesn’t face this issue in the future,” she said. 

In Laredo, increases in COVID-19 are occurring among young and middle-aged people who have gone out in public since the area reopened for business.

“Some city council members have expressed frustration at the lack of local control in the reopening process that Texas has had,” Méndez said.

Laredo is currently at Level 4 on the five-level COVID-19 risk scale.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

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