Houston has been so overwhelmed by new cases of coronavirus that its hospitals are reportedly sending patients to facilities outside the city.
With infections on the rise across the state, Harris Health Systems, operators of Houston’s Ben Taub and LBJ Hospitals, have had to transfer 33 of their patients to a network of other care facilities over the course of 24 hours on Tuesday, reports ABC News.
Transfers include patients with COVID-19 and without COVID-19. And at least 15 other patients were scheduled to be transferred Wednesday, with patients depending on the medium.
“We are running out of beds in the ICU,” Bryan McLeod, a spokesman for Harris Health Systems, told ABC News.
Texas has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, as officials struggle with a dramatic increase in infections and hospitalizations that began in mid-June, after the state began reopening on May 1.
The state documented more than 9,300 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, a new record, after setting new daily highs almost every day since June 16.
More people are also becoming seriously ill, with 7,382 coronavirus-related hospitalizations statewide, more than four times the number hospitalized at the end of May.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott had pushed for an aggressive reopening and insisted on going ahead with those plans last month when cases began to escalate.
At first, Abbott had resisted a face mask requirement and blocked cities from issuing their own mandates when he began to reopen the state, arguing that the government could not compel people to wear masks.
But the governor reversed course on Thursday, signing an executive order that requires covering his face in public places in most of the state.
“We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast that there is little margin for error,” Abbott said.
The order requires that “all Texans wear a face that covers the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 positive cases, with few exceptions.”
Violators of the order may be fined up to $ 250. Exceptions are made for those with medical conditions or disabilities; people who exercise outdoors, or anyone who participates in a religious service or who votes 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 the number of restaurants to half the capacity of the establishments.
“We have the ability to keep business open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a salary, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect each other, and that means wearing a mask in public spaces. , “Abbott said.
If residents follow the rules, “more extreme measures can be avoided,” he added.