Texas bans elective surgeries in more than 100 counties as coronavirus hospitalizations keep climbing

The COVID-19 unit at the DHR Health Center in Edinburg on June 30. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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With cases of the new coronavirus and related hospitalizations rising at alarming rates, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state.

Surgeries and other procedures that are not “immediately, medically” necessary — which have already been on hold in many of the state’s biggest cities and several South Texas counties — are now barred in much of the state, from far West Texas to much of Central Texas, Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast.

Those procedures can still take place in some, mostly rural parts of the state, including the Panhandle and the South Plains, as well as much of North and Northeast Texas, excluding Dallas County.

"We are freeing up more resources to address upticks in COVID-19 related cases,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of this virus and support our hospitals and health care professionals as they care for their fellow Texans.”

As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized with the virus had reached a record high of 9,610 — twice as many as there were on June 25. But the pressure on hospitals is not evenly distributed around the state. Hospital capacity is currently most taxed around the state’s biggest cities, as well as most of South Texas.

The governor’s order applies to 11 of the state’s 22 Trauma Service Areas: J, K, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U and V, as well as Dallas County.

A map of the trauma service area of the state.

A map of the trauma service area of the state. via Texas Department of State Health Services