By Nicole Cobler
Texas Pool Reporter (Austin American-Statesman)
Gov. Greg Abbott entered a room outside of the State Operations Center at 1:13 p.m. Tuesday. He was joined by Dr. John Zerwas, a physician from Richmond who is on a team working to expand hospital capacity and procure needed medical supplies.
“We are here today to let Texans know about the abundant hospital capacity that exists to treat Texans who may test positive for COVID-19.”
Abbott said fewer Texans test positive for COVID-19 than residents in any large states in the U.S. He added that Texas has one of the lowest death rates and few Texans who test positive have to go to the hospital in the first place.
Abbott says two counties, Jefferson and Pecos counties, had an “outsized influence” on the number of Texans testing positive for COVID-19. For example, a federal prison in Beaumont brought back a batch of positive tests for inmates “that all came in at once.”
“I want you to know that this is the same type of analysis that we use on an ongoing basis as we look into each and every county across the entire state of Texas to figure out exactly what is going on,” Abbott said.
Tuesday’s number of positive cases, 2,622, is a new high for Texas, which Abbott says is because of a large number of tests out of an assisted living center in Collin County. Hays County is another example of a large increase, Abbott said.
“It seems like these numbers were batched together and averaged out,” he said.
One day after his comments on 20-somethings testing positive for COVID-19, Abbott reiterated that statement, saying there are multiple reports in certain counties “where a majority of the people who are testing positive in that county are under the age of 30.”
Tuesday’s hospitalization number is 2,518, Abbott said. “That’s really a very small percentage of all the beds that are available.”
Abbott says new medical strategies, treatments and additional PPE have better prepared Texas to respond to COVID-19: “We are better prepared to deal with COVID-19 today than we were in March and April.”
The governor recommended that people stay home, which he says is especially true for those with an underlying health condition or who are 65 and older.
He reiterated that Texans should wear masks while out in public because asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus.
Dr. John Zerwas gave a presentation on hospital bed availability. There are 14,993 total beds available in Texas out of the state’s 54,844 beds.
Zerwas says he hopes this is a “comforting message” of the state’s health care system.
Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, says state officials expected this increase in patients, but: “We are seeing it occurring at a manageable level.”
“The possibility that things could flare up again and produce a resurgence of COVID-19,” which would stress the state’s health care system “is still very real,” Hellerstedt said.
24% of the areas 14,383 beds are available.
21% of the areas 12,458 beds are available.
31% of the areas 1,805 beds are available. There are 97 lab confirmed COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
41% of the area’s 1,038 beds are available.
“This is where we had some issues with our meatpacking plants,” Zerwas says, adding that it’s no longer a “hotspot” for the coronavirus.
26% of the state’s 5,799 reported beds are available to COVID-19 patients.
28% of areas’ 3,250 beds are available. Around 137 COVID confirmed patients in the hospital, Zerwas says.