Abbott Says Texas Has Enough Hospital Beds, While COVID-19 Cases Continue to Increase

Gov. Abbott and  Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System John Zerwas, MD.
Gov. Abbott and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System John Zerwas, MD. Photo by Office of the Governor
In his press conference Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at present there are enough hospital beds — more than 19,000 remain available — to handle the state's needs for coronavirus patients.

He and Dr. John Zerwas, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System, also discussed the efforts the state is making to secure additional beds as needed. He also said the state has identified thousands of ventilators that will be available if needed.

In anticipation of a surge, Zerwas said the state has been asking hospitals what other beds they have that are  not being used now. Adding these beds would take additional personnel and ancillary equipment, he said.

"We can increase our bed capacity by 7,600 beds," Zerwas said. "These are beds that are ready to go,. They just need people to staff them and they just need some of the equipment to make them functional."

Within the same surge capacity are the number of ICU beds. Zerwas said the survey showed the state could count on additional 2,200 ICU beds.

Meanwhile in the city of Houston, the Health Department reported another two deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total deaths to eight for the city. It also reported an additional 81 cases bringing the total to 587.

The latest deaths involved a man in his 40s who died March 27 and a woman in her 60s who died April 1. Both had underlying health conditions.

"This is the youngest death that we've had," said Dr. David Persse, health authority for the city's Health Department. He also said the concept of asymptomatic spread has turned out to be "a bigger part of the equation" than they had first counted on.

In happier news, the mayor announced a donation drive sponsored by Cheniere Energy and managed by the Astros Foundation and Project C.U.R.E. which normally raises funds for overseas medical needs. From noon to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, individuals and businesses can donate personal protection equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves at Minute Maid Park. Cash donations will also be accepted. Cheniere will match dollar for dollar up to $50,000 in donations, its president and CEO Jack Fusco said.

Over at the ready harris website the county was reporting a total of five deaths and 519 positive cases. The latest death was a woman in her 80s who also had underlying health conditions. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing