Houston has become so overwhelmed by new coronavirus cases that its hospitals are reportedly shipping patients to facilities outside the city.
With infections soaring across the state, Harris Health Systems, the operators of Houston’s Ben Taub and LBJ hospitals, have had to transfer 33 of its patients to a network of other care centers over the course of 24 hours Tuesday, ABC News reports.
The transfers include COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. And at least another 15 patients were slated to be transferred Wednesday, with patients according to the outlet.
“We’re running out of ICU beds,” Bryan McLeod, a spokesman for Harris Health Systems, told ABC News.
Texas has the third-most coronavirus cases in the country as officials there grapple with a dramatic spike in infections and hospitalizations that began in mid-June, after the state started reopening May 1.
The state documented more than 9,300 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, a new record, after setting new daily highs nearly every day since June 16.
More people are also getting severely ill, too, with 7,382 coronavirus-related hospitalizations reported statewide — more than quadruple the number hospitalized at the end of May.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had pushed an aggressive reopening and insisted on carrying ahead with those plans last month as cases started to climb.
Abbott had at first resisted a face mask requirement and had blocked cities from issuing their own mandates when he began reopening the state, arguing that government couldn’t force people to wear masks.
But the governor reversed course Thursday, signing an executive order mandating face coverings must be worn in public settings across most of the state.
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” Abbott said.
The order requires “all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.”
Violators of the order can be fined up to $250. Exceptions are made for those with medical conditions or disabilities; people who are exercising outdoors, or anyone participating in a religious service or voting in an election.
Abbott, who has faced harsh criticism from both Republicans and Democrats over his handling of the virus, last week ordered bars to close again and limited indoor dining to half-capacity of establishments.
“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” Abbott said.
If residents follow the rules, “more extreme measures may be avoided,” he added.
With Post wires