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Area hospitals OK for now, despite COVID-19 surge

Area hospitals are managing the surge in COVID-19 cases in some area counties, but planners are considering what to do if they no longer can.  (File)
Area hospitals are managing the surge in COVID-19 cases in some area counties, but planners are considering what to do if they no longer can. (File)(KBTX)
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 5:40 PM CDT
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KWTX) - Doctors and hospital staff in Central Texas are seeing plenty of COVID-19 patients as the number of confirmed cases rises, but they say they aren’t yet experiencing patient counts that indicate the system might be overrun here.

“The status now is that Central Texas health care organizations are prepared not just for the current numbers we’re seeing, but an even larger number if those numbers come,” said Francisco Villa, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Advisory Council (CTRAC).

CTRAC represents hospitals, caregivers, paramedics, firefighters and many other groups in six counties in Central Texas and the group is hyperactive in today’s climate, he said.

“Conditions continue to change, and we carefully evaluate the situation each day as part of our surge planning,” Villa said.

Today the primary concern is the growing numbers of cases of the virus that appear each day and how to see that number get smaller, not larger.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order on Thursday that requires residents of counties with 20 or more active cases of the virus to wear face coverings in public and those who don’t could be fined as much as $250 for each violation.

“We hope the governor’s order might help mitigate the numbers we’re seeing right now,” Villa said.

“More and more people show up in our clinic every day for testing,” said Dr. J.D. Sheffield, who sees patients at a clinic in Copperas Cove.

“It’s requiring more and more time, we’re doing more and more tests and the labs that process them are getting more and more backed up,” Sheffield said.

He said it can take more than two weeks to get test results back now, which means there are more and more people who can spread the virus walking around without knowing it.

“We have to pay more attention,” Sheffield said,

“I think the problem now is that people made it through the first shelter in place order and didn’t get sick, so now, they think the government’s told them it’s safe to go out again, and it’s just not.”

Villa isn’t thinking about an overflow of patients, he said, because his group does surge planning every day just to stay on top of the issue.

And, for years, there’s been a plan in place among hospitals about how they’d handle such an event, if one ever were to arise.

“It’s something we’re prepared for, something we think about,” he said. “We’re ready.”

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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