Houston hospitals stop reporting COVID-19-related data after reaching basic ICU capacity: report

Data released by a major Houston hospital system no longer includes information on the capacity of the hospital system’s intensive care unit, a change reportedly made only a day after it was previously updated to show that Hospitals reach 100% of base capacity due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The charts updated daily by the Texas Medical Center, a hospital system with locations in downtown Houston, contained a warning through Sunday that an “upward trajectory of new daily cases” continued, indicating that the increase in patients in the UCI “supports the future UCI Resource Planning”. However, there were no indications of when the hospital system would reach its capacity.

“Currently, CCT institutions can serve all patients requiring intensive care,” the documents read, along with a note indicating an average growth of 5 percent of coronavirus patients requiring ICU admission. No other information on when the TMC would reach UCI capacity was publicly available.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the data was altered to exclude this information after Saturday’s update indicated that Houston ICUs would reach “unsustainable overvoltage capacity” by July 6.

The Chronicle also reported that the change occurred after a conversation “between Governor Greg Abbott. [R] and hospital executives in which the governor expressed his discontent with negative headlines about the capacity of the UCI “

A spokesperson for Abbott’s office denied the Chronicle that the governor’s office had asked hospitals to provide less data on the ICU’s capacity.

“The governor’s office believes that all hospitals should report accurate data to the state and the public as often as possible,” the spokesperson said. “We demand more information to share, not less.”

Texas is one of several states reporting sharp spikes in new daily coronavirus case numbers, and last week it moved to curb plans to reopen the state and loosen restrictions on public meetings.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go back and close business,” Abbott said Thursday. “This temporary pause will help our state corner the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

“I ask all Texans to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing themselves from others,” he added. “The more we follow all of these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open Texas for business.”