Abbott: Texas’ increase in hospital beds, equipment ‘should prevent’ shortage seen in New York coronavirus crisis

Governor presents latest stats on hospital beds, ventilators

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released new numbers on the availabilities of hospital beds, intensive care unit beds and ventilators Friday, saying that capacity “should prevent” the shortage New York is currently facing while fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

As states around the country try to gear up to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and care for those who are infected by the virus, Abbott said hospital bed capacity across Texas has increased by 142% due to regulations he’s waived and recent executive orders issued during the pandemic.

COVID-19 not expected to peak for several weeks in Texas, Gov. Abbott says

Currently, Abbott said there are 19,695 hospital beds available and more than 2,000 intensive care unit beds to COVID-19 patients. He also said Texas holds 8,741 ventilators, one of the best tools to help infected patients who require acute care.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott presented new numbers on hospital beds and ventilators on April 3, 2020. (KSAT)

In the San Antonio trauma service area, officials identified that there are a total of 6,463 hospital beds. Currently, 46% of those beds, or 2,997, are available. San Antonio also has 397 ICU beds available.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott presented new numbers on hospital beds and ventilators on April 3, 2020. (KSAT)

Ex-state Rep. Dr. John Zerwas, the former chief budget writer in the House who heads up Texas’ strike force to secure more equipment, said that Texas can also boost capacity by staffing more beds, depending on how crowded the hospitals get. In all, Zerwas said Texas can add at least 10,000 more beds and 4,000 more ICU beds.

Abbott praised the strike force and Zerwas for securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses and doctors on the frontline.

“In the past six days, they have provided more than 1.4 million face masks, 190,000 face shields, 2 million gloves and 160,000 gowns,” Abbott said.

Still, hospital officials are concerned they don’t have enough personal protective equipment to protect their staff.

Recently, UT Health San Antonio put out a a call for essential medical supplies. Officials said the call was not made because they don’t currently have personal protective equipment, but that they want to make sure they have enough to prepare for the future.

While Abbott said he believes Texas has enough capacity to handle the peak of the pandemic, he cautioned that it still depends on precautions residents take in the meantime.

“We as a state must ensure everybody in our state is doing everything we possibly can to slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Abbott said, urging people to stay home if they are not out for an essential reason.

Abbott said Friday that more than 55,000 Texans have been tested for COVID-19 and 5,478 cases. More than 90 Texans have died from complications related to COVID-19 and about 830 people have been hospitalized in the state — about a 15 percent hospitalization rate, Abbott said.

As of Thursday evening, 254 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths total were reported in Bexar County, according to Mayor Nirenberg.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.