HOUSTON - As Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order suspending elective surgeries at hospitals in four counties – including Harris County.
To ensure hospital bed availability as cases rise, the order issued Thursday suspends elective surgeries in hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties.
According to the order, all hospitals in these counties are directed to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.
Through proclamation, Gov. Abbott can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the executive order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.
“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Governor Abbott. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the state is facing a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic as the numbers of new cases and hospitalizations hit record highs, and that some new local restrictions may be needed to protect hospital space for new patients.
Texas health officials reported a record-high 5,551 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, and another record of 4,389 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Texas also reported 29 new fatalities and saw its rate of positive tests reach 10.4%, its highest level since mid-April when Texas was still under stay-at-home orders.
Texas had just passed the 4,000 mark of daily new cases over the weekend and has seen cases and hospitalizations surge since then.
One of the first measures Abbott took in March when the pandemic emerged in the state was to order hospitals to suspend nonessential surgeries to help ensure they weren’t overwhelmed. That ban was later rescinded.
With new cases and the number of COVID-19 patients rising rapidly, “We are looking at greater restrictions and some could be localized,” Abbott said Wednesday without detailing what those would be or where.
“There are some regions in the state of Texas that are running tight on hospital capacity that may necessitate a localized strategy to make sure that hospital beds will be available,” he said.
Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S. said Tuesday that it was admitting adult patients across its campuses to free up more hospital bed space in the Houston area. The number of COVID-19-positive hospital patients in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, has nearly tripled since May 31.
On Wednesday, Texas Medical Center Intensive Care Units were 97 percent full with COVID-19 patients occupying 27 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.