Governor Greg Abbott and Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas (UT) System John Zerwas, MD provided an update on Texas’ hospital capacity Tuesday, June 16.
The Governor noted despite an uptick in positive cases, there continues to be abundant hospital capacity. He also urged all Texans to continue to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and look out for the health of themselves and those around them. Dr. Zerwas presented an in-depth update about hospital capacity in Texas.
“As we begin to open up Texas and Texans returns to their jobs, we remain laser-focused on maintaining abundant hospital capacity,” said Gov. Abbott. “The best way to contain the spread of this virus is by all Texans working together and following simple safety precautions. We all have a responsibility for our own health and for the health of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors.
“COVID-19 still exists in Texas, and if we are to contain the spread while getting Texans back to work, all Texans must do their part. That means making safe and smart decisions like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and socially distancing in public.
“The more Texans protect their own health, the safer our state will be and the more we will be able to open up for business.”
Other information from press conference pool report
• Gov. Abbott said fewer Texans test positive for COVID-19 than residents in any large states in the U.S. He added Texas has one of the lowest death rates and few Texans who test positive have to go to the hospital in the first place.
• One day after his comments on 20-somethings testing positive for COVID-19, Gov. 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.”
• Today’s (June 16) hospitalization number is 2,518, Gov. Abbott said. “That’s really a very small percentage of all the beds that are available.”
• Gov. Abbott said 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,” said the Governor.
• Gov. Abbott said Texas doesn’t have to choose between returning to jobs and protecting health care. “We do have the tools and the strategies in place where we can achieve jobs being maintained without jeopardizing public health,” he said.
• Dr. Zerwas gave a presentation about hospital bed availability. There are 14,993 total beds available in Texas out of the state’s 54,844 beds.
• Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt said state officials expected this increase in patients, but added, “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.
• Gov. Abbott, wrapping up before taking questions, said, “Even though there are more people hospitalized, we still remain at the lowest threat level to our hospital capacity.”
• Addressing college sports, the Governor said, “I had a telephone conference recently with all of the athletic directors for schools in the state of Texas.” Athletic directors should come up with their own strategies for their particular stadium, including indoor stadiums, and present it to the doctors on his team.