In an executive order released on Thursday morning, Gov. Greg Abbott has called a halt to any elective surgeries at hospitals in the four mostly densely populated counties in Texas as COVID-19 cases continue to mount.
Hospitals in Harris, Bexar, Austin and Dallas counties are barred from doing elective surgeries in an effort to save as many beds as possible for coronavirus cases.
According to a press release from the governor's office:
Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties 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.
Going forward, Abbott can by proclamation add or subtract the names of any other counties in response to surges 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.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner reported seven new COVID-19 deaths bringing the total deaths to 204 and 987 new coronavirus cases in Houston bringing the city's total to 16,253. Harris County — covering cases outside the city of Houston — has reported a total of 142 deaths and 9,533 confirmed cases.