Ten out of the 12 hospitals in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley are now full

A healthcare worker wearing full protective gear is framed by patients' charts in a ward reserved for COVID-19 patients at the Hospital Juarez, in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2020. Mexico ranks seventh globally in COVID-19 deaths and third in its mortality rate among the 20 currently most affected countries, according to Johns Hopkins University. (AP Photo / Eduardo Verdugo)
A healthcare worker wearing full protective gear is framed by patients' charts in a ward reserved for COVID-19 patients at the Hospital Juarez, in Mexico City, Friday, June 26, 2020. Mexico ranks seventh globally in COVID-19 deaths and third in its mortality rate among the 20 currently most affected countries, according to Johns Hopkins University. (AP Photo / Eduardo Verdugo) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Hospitals in the Rio Grande Valley sounded the alarm Saturday as their beds filled to capacity with COVID-19 patients and some began transferring patients elsewhere.

Ten of 12 hospitals in Hidalgo, Cameron and Starr counties are now on “diversion status,” which means all their beds are full, although Hidalgo County spokesperson Carlos Sanchez said it’s a “fluid situation so diversions may be lifted at any moment.”

Sanchez said the state has sent medical personnel and supplies to the area to help overwhelmed hospitals, “but personnel remains a concern.”

In the Rio Grande Valley, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has more than tripled over the past two weeks, from 253 people on June 22 to 820 on July 4.

The Valley Baptist Health System, which runs three hospitals in the region, said its hospitals in Harlingen and Brownsville are above 100 percent capacity, with more than 40% of their beds filled with patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

“What that means is that we are now at the point of grave concern,” Manny Vela, the system’s CEO, said in a written statement on Friday.

Health officials in deep South Texas are urging the community “to take immediate action to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” through social distancing, masks and hand-washing, said Leslie Bingham, CEO for Valley Baptist-Brownsville. The hospital cleared space reserved for elective surgeries earlier this week to create another coronavirus unit.

Starr and Hidalgo counties sent emergency alerts to their residents on Friday.