Hospitals must expand capacity as COVID-19 cases rise

  • Ed Sterling
    Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott has again suspended elective surgeries in hospitals in 104 counties located within 11 of the state’s 22 trauma service areas.

Each of the trauma service areas has a regional advisory council and a trauma system plan to respond to health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the proclamation, Abbott directed all hospitals in designated counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient, as determined by the patient’s physician.

GA-27, a similar proclamation issued by Abbott on June 25, remains in effect and applies to the counties of Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo, Nueces, Travis and Webb.

“We are freeing up more resources to address upticks in COVID-19 related cases,” Abbott said in a news release explaining the July 9 proclamation.

“The State of Texas will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of this virus and support our hospitals and health care professionals as they care for their fellow Texans. We must all come together and continue to practice social distancing, wear a face covering in public, and stay home when possible,” added Abbott.

On July 10, Abbott extended his March 13 COVID-19 disaster proclamation for all counties in Texas. Cumulative figures posted July 12 by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed some 258,658 people in Texas diagnosed with COVID-19 and 3,192 confirmed deaths resulting from the disease.

City cancels GOP event

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on July 8 announced that he had instructed the city’s event licensor to exercise its contractual rights to cancel the Texas Republican Party’s in-person state convention.

Turner made the decision to proceed with the cancellation after Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department said the city “is confronting an unparalleled and frightening escalation in the spread of the COVID-19 virus” and called the planned convention “a clear and present danger.”

The convention, expected to attract 6,000 delegates, was scheduled to start on July 16 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The Republican Party of Texas sued Houston First Corporation, the City of Houston and Mayor Turner to allow the convention but Harris County District Court Judge Larry Weiman sided with the defendants. The Republican Party of Texas said it would file its appeal with the Texas Supreme Court.

State Fair canceled

The Texas State Fair board of directors on July 7 voted to cancel the 2020 State Fair of Texas.

Only in rare circumstances has the fair been canceled. The last cancellations occurred in war years: 1942 to 1945.

“While we cannot predict what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like in September, the recent surge in positive cases is troubling for all of North Texas. The safest and most responsible decision we could make for all involved at this point in our 134-year history is to take a hiatus for the 2020 season,” said State Fair of Texas Board Chair Gina Norris.

Hospitals get Remdesivir

Gov. Abbott on July 4 announced that the Texas Department of State Health Services is distributing 448 cases of the antiviral drug Remdesivir to 157 hospitals across Texas.

The drug is being distributed to the states from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is the sixth round of distribution from the federal government. The supply is part of a donation from Canadaheadquartered drug maker Gilead.

Abbott said Remdesivir “has shown promise in early trials in speeding up the recovery time among hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”

Hegar distributed revenue

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on July 8 announced he would send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $744.2 million in local sales tax allocations for July, an amount 2.6% less than the amount distributed in July 2019.

Allocations are based on sales made in May by businesses that report tax monthly.

Widespread social distancing requirements were relaxed across much of the state in May, thus year-over-year declines were not as steep as they were last month, Hegar said.