[guest post by Dana]
Things are looking pretty bad in Austin right now:
The number of staffed intensive care unit beds has sunk to single digits this week as the Austin area weathers the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
As of Monday, Region O — which is made up of 2.3 million people in 11 counties: Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Lee, Llano and San Saba — had only six staffed ICU beds, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Throughout the 11-county region, 647 patients are hospitalized for the coronavirus, out of more than 3,700 inpatients regionwide. The region has only enough staffing to care for a little more than 4,200 patients
“The problem with that is that outside COVID-19, the risk has increased for those in car crashes, having heart attacks or other health issues” that require that kind of care, said Matt Lara, a spokesperson for Austin Public Health. “We are asking people get vaccinated, wear a mask and stay home, if possible. We need to take precautions to help the hospitals.”
The surge in cases is being driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which is spreading among the very young and the unvaccinated.
On Monday afternoon, Austin-area public health officials reported 445 new coronavirus cases and 74 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Travis County.
Of the 557 people currently in the hospital for COVID-19, 191 were in ICUs and 116 were on ventilators.
Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott of Texas is asking the public to put off elective surgery:
Gov. Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas while two more of the state’s largest school districts announced mask mandates in defiance of the governor.
Abbott’s request Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate their COVID-19 overflow. Private hospitals in the county already were requiring their staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus…
The Republican governor has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from beyond the state’s borders as the delta wave began to overwhelm its present staffing resources. He also has sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily.
Hospital officials in Houston said last week that area hospitals with beds had insufficient numbers of nurses to serve them.
Abbott also directed the state health department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers to treat patients not needing hospital care and expand COVID-19 vaccine availability to the state’s underserved communities…
The governor is taking action short of lifting his emergency order banning county and local government entities from requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing to lower the COVID-19 risk. Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.
Do they? Do they really? Because it sure doesn’t seem like it.
In March 2020, when there were concerns that health systems could be overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, it was recommended that elective surgeries be put on hold:
Containing the spread of COVID-19 and conserving resources—most notably personal protective equipment and ventilators—were key factors in the recommendation to postpone elective surgeries.
Because of those factors, the AMA offered praise for the recommendation after it was released.
The CMS guidance “on adult elective surgery is a vital step is allocating resources during the pandemic,” said AMA president Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA. “As hospitals and physician practices plan for anticipated surges of patients needing care for COVID-19 infections, health professionals must use their expertise to develop allocation policies that are fair and safeguard the welfare of patients. The CMS guidance offers needed flexibility to physicians by allowing them to consider the imperative of resource conservation, especially personal protective equipment.”
That was 17 months ago, and yet here we are. Again.
It’s a bit mind-boggling that more than a year and a half later, similar steps are necessary. Looking at the situation in Texas, one wouldn’t necessarily think that this is a country where there is sufficient availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the means with which to administer it to the public. And yet here we are. Still.
I’ll just drop this here. Note that Sen. Cruz is not imploring Texans to get vaccinated already but is instead ranting about how he is against mandates of any kind. (Or as Allahpundit put it, here is Cruz “campaigning for 2024”):
Yet one more politician crassly politicizing Covid-19 for his own political gain while his own state is experiencing a devastating surge in Covid hospitalizations.
Get the vaccine.