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Can Texas handle a COVID-19 spike? Here’s what the data says.

Data forecasts breaks down states’ hospital capacity

The IMHE projection predicts Texas will reach its COVID-19 peak on April 26, 2020.
The IMHE projection predicts Texas will reach its COVID-19 peak on April 26, 2020. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – As the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas grows, so does the number of patients requiring hospitalizations.

The latest numbers, released Thursday night by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, showed that 20 percent of the more than 700 cases required hospitalization. Further, more than of the 89 people who are hospitalized are in the intensive care unit, and 40 of them are on a ventilator.

While the current number of patients is not overwhelming the health care system here, experts have warned about the resource shortage that may arise during peak of the infection. Gov. Greg Abbott told KSAT 12 News last week that the peak is expected to come toward the end of April in Texas.

Due to the way Texas has responded to the crisis, by cutting certain regulations and increasing the state’s supply line, the state may be able to handle the peak.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent health research center at the University of Washington, created a model that projects the availability of hospital resources across the country amid the pandemic, broken down by state.

The data being used in these forecasts come from local and national governments as well as hospital networks.

The forecasts show that social distancing appears to be working, as Abbott and others, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have said.

Last week, the data projection indicated Texas would need 17,221 beds, 2,568 ICU beds and 2,055 ventilators at the peak of the infection.

As of Sunday, those projections dropped to 3,881 beds, 732 ICU beds, and 613 ventilators. The peak date, according to the model, is expected around April 26.

According to the research, Texas would have enough capacity for the peak of pandemic if social distancing is maintained through May.

The forecasts improvement could be for a variety of reasons. Besides social distancing, Texas has secured a solid supply of personal protective equipment through the state’s strike force. Hospital capacity also increased after executive orders that increase the number of hospital beds and Texas’ efforts in making makeshift hospital beds if need be.

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott indicated there were roughly 20,000 total beds available for COVID-19 patients and more than 8,700 ventilators available.

In Bexar County, there are a little more than 500 ventilators still available, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said on Wednesday. He said that he’s ordered 2,100 additional ventilators from the state as a precaution.

While the projections show that social distancing is working, officials and experts have said it’s too soon to loosen those restrictions.

“Now is not the time for us to let up,” Abbott said last week during a news conference. “Now is the time to instead redouble our efforts to make sure we get rid of the coronavirus.”


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