Texas currently has “an abundant hospital capacity,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news briefing Tuesday, adding that fewer Texans have tested positive for COVID-19 than residents in any other large state in the U.S.
There are 14,993 total hospital beds available out of the state’s 54,844 beds, and today’s hospitalization number of 2,518 coronavirus patients “is really a very small percentage of all the beds that are available,” Abbott said.
The governor was joined by Dr. John Zerwas, executive vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd.
Before the news conference, Abbott participated in a call with hospital executives and leaders who reported that COVID-19 patients represent between 6 and 7 percent of total hospital patients statewide.
Hospital bed availability remains high for a state still operating under a disaster declaration. Of the Dallas-Fort Worth’s hospital beds, 24 percent are available; 21 percent of Houston’s are available; 31 percent of El Paso’s, 26 percent of San Antonio’s, and 28 percent of Austin’s hospital beds are available.
Hellerstedt said state officials expected an increase in patients, but “we are seeing it occurring at a manageable level.
“The possibility that things could flare up again and produce a resurgence of COVID-19,” which would stress the state’s health care system, “is still very real,” Hellerstedt added.
Zerwas said he hoped this information about the state’s health care system was a “comforting message” to Texans who have entered phase three of the state’s reopening plan.
Two counties, Jefferson and Pecos counties, had an “outsized influence” on the number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 partially due to a federal prison in Beaumont reporting a batch of positive inmate tests “that all came in at once,” Abbott said when explaining higher positive test numbers reported.
A new positive case total of 2,622 resulted from a large number of tests taken from an assisted living center in Collin County.
Abbott also said that even though people are testing positive does not mean they need to be hospitalized, freeing up space in hospitals for the infirmed and those seeking elective or emergency surgeries.
On Tuesday, 64 people tested positive in the Dallas Fort Worth area and were admitted to hospitals, Abbott said, emphasizing that there were 250 more beds made available. In Houston, 65 people tested positive and were hospitalized but 183 more beds became available.
Statewide, hospitals are reporting a 78 percent increase in bed availability, Abbott said, and the state has nearly 6,000 ventilators available.
Hospitals have more PPE, more viral drugs and are able to admit and treat patients more efficiently and quickly than they were in March and April, Abbott added.
Texans don’t have to choose between returning to work or protecting themselves or worrying about health care overload, he added.
“We do have the tools and the strategies in place where we can achieve” jobs being maintained without jeopardizing public health, Abbott said.
The governor emphasized that Texans should remain vigilant about maintaining safety protocols.
“The best way to contain the spread of this virus is by all Texans working together and following simple safety precautions,” he said. “COVID-19 still exists in Texas, and if we are to contain the spread while getting Texans back to work, all Texans must do their part. That means making safe and smart decisions like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and socially distancing in public. The more Texans protect their own health, the safer our state will be and the more we will be able to open up for business.”
This article was first published by The Center Square.