In Austin, the health department said there were only nine intensive care beds available on Friday in the 11-county trauma service region that includes the city and serves 2.3 million people.
“We are running out of time and our community must act now,” said Dr Desmar Walkes, Austin Medical Director / Health Authority. “Our critical care capacity is reaching a critical point where the level of risk for the entire community has increased dramatically, and not just for those in need of treatment for COVID. If we fail to come together as a community now, we are putting the lives of loved ones at risk who may need intensive care. “
In a joint statement, three hospital systems that serve the Austin area – Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White and St. David’s Healthcare – said the latest COVID-19 spike “is putting extraordinary pressure on our hospitals, wards. emergency and healthcare professionals, and this has put further strain on hospital staff due to a long-standing shortage of nurses. “
San Antonio is also facing a nursing shortage caused by an increase in the number of coronavirus patients. City leaders had hoped the state would help fill the shortage, but in a letter sent Thursday to city and county leaders in Texas, the state called on local governments to instead develop their own plans to increase. hospital staff before seeking help from the state, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The state had previously hired recruiting companies to send traveling nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists to help hospitals cope with COVID-19 outbreaks.
In San Antonio, COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Saturday increased 430% since early July, the newspaper reported.
“We have patients waiting in the hall; we have patients in the hallway, ”said Tommye Austin, chief nurse for University Health, one of the largest hospitals in San Antonio. “Every corner of this organization has a patient. “
As of Saturday, there were 6,251 people in Texas hospitals with COVID-19, which was the most since February 24. Forty-four new deaths from COVID-19 and 12,732 new cases of the disease were reported on Saturday.
Despite the increase in hospitalizations and new cases, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly upheld his order banning state, county and local mask warrants.
As of Saturday, only 43.8% of the total population of Texas had been fully immunized. That followed the national rate of 49.5% and was far behind Vermont, which had the highest rate of any state, at 67.5%, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.