COVID-19 cases surge in US state after reopening; hospitals suffer
In the United States, Texas has seen a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, resulting in hospitals nearing capacity in Houston—the state's most populous city. On Wednesday, the state reported a record high of 5,551 new cases in the past 24 hours. The surge has prompted Governor Greg Abbott to tighten lockdown restrictions after he refused to slow down the state's reopening earlier.
As per the latest available official data, Texas reported a total of 1,25,921 cases with 2,249 deaths till Wednesday. An estimated 72,898 people have also recovered in the state. On Wednesday, the state reported an all-time high of 5,551 new cases along with 29 more fatalities. Overall, the US has reported over 23 lakh cases with 1.2 lakh deaths, making it the worst-hit country.
As the number of cases rises in Texas, hospitals are being pushed to near capacity. Houston's Texas Medical Center said to be the world's largest such facility, revealed that its ICU beds were at 97% normal capacity. The facility could accommodate up to 900 more patients before hitting its maximum surge capacity. Houston Methodist hospital system is also nearing its "tipping point."
The head of the Houston Methodist hospital system, Dr. Marc Boom, wrote in an email to employees on Friday, "We appear to be nearing the tipping point." The email, accessed by the Texas Tribune, added, "Should the number of new cases grow too rapidly, it will eventually challenge our ability to treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients."
Some adult ICU patients are now being treated at the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, which is also the fourth-largest city in the US. The adult patients will be treated for serious health issues, including COVID-19, at the pediatric facility, The Guardian reported.
"In Houston, we, the pediatricians at Texas Children's Hospital, will now start seeing adult patients," pediatrician Shubhada Hooli tweeted, "I'm up for the challenge, but please help us out." Dr. Peter Hotez, Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics at Texas Children's Hospital tweeted, "We knew this day would come, I thought perhaps later this summer or fall, but the exponential rise came a bit early."
Texas was among the first US states to reopen. The decision had led to US President Donald Trump praising Governor Abbott. Trump had said, "I rely on his judgement." Abbott had even expressed confidence in the state administration's ability to contain any new outbreaks. On Tuesday, Abbott tightened lockdown restrictions, a day after declaring that Texas was "wide open for business."