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. – Inside a Houston hospital partly transformed into a specialized coronavirus unit, a doctor says he hopes to reach capacity in the next 14 days.
“In the past three weeks, I have seen more admissions and sicker patients than in the previous 10 weeks,” says Dr. Joseph Varon, medical director of United Memorial Medical Center. “It has been an exponential increase in the severity of the disease and in the number of cases that we admit.”
In other US hospitals, there are similar scenes.
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At least 12 states are seeing an increase in daily hospitalizations, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.
The trend is worrying: A sharp increase in patients can once again overwhelm hospitals, making critical resources, including staff, beds and fans, scarce.
Some hospitals are already so flooded that they have moved patients elsewhere, while others are taking steps to prepare for a surge.
The increases come weeks after many states began reopening their economies after prolonged closings designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The relaxed measures fueled the rapid spread of the virus and the influx of new patients needing hospitalization, some doctors say.
“I live near a beach, and you can see it’s like a party every day,” says Dr. David De La Zerda, ICU medical director and pulmonologist at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
According to forecasts published by the CDC, among the states that experienced an increase are Florida and Texas, which expect to see almost 2,000 new hospitalizations per day in mid-July. In Arizona and California, projections project about 1,500 new patients each day in the next two weeks.
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In Harris County, which encompasses Houston and is the most populous county in Texas, at least two hospitals are “at full capacity,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday.
“The threat… that covid-19 represents for our community at this time is greater than it has been. There is a severe and uncontrolled spread among our families, friends and communities, “said Turner. “And we have to slow down, so that it doesn’t overwhelm our healthcare system.”
Several hospitals in Houston are still within capacity limits, he said.
Among them, the United Memorial Medical Center is hovering around 80% of its capacity.
Parts of the hospital are making a rapid transition to coronavirus units, with airtight areas around sections where infected patients are stationed. And doctors like Varon, who has worked more than 100 consecutive days now, are becoming semi-specialists in the virus.
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“These patients are very sick. They are patients who are about to die. So, we have to admit them and once they are here, despite everything we do, they have to stay in the hospital for at least 5 to 10 days, “said Varon. “Sooner or later, within the next two weeks, we will be with a full house.”
Two facilities within the Harris Health System have had to distribute their “load” of patients, said the mayor.
“It really has intensified in the last month or so,” Charlie McMurray-Horton, associate administrator for Clinical Integration and Transformation at Harris Health System, told CNN affiliate KTRK.
“We are actively seeking to transfer ICU and overvoltage patients who are covid-positive and under investigation simply because we do not have the capacity to treat those patients,” said McMurray-Horton.
On July 1, Texas reported 6,904 total hospitalizations, a staggering record and an increase of more than 2,500 patients in one week. The state’s peak of hospitalizations in May was 1,888.
“Today’s figures, this week, in the last weeks are much worse than those of March, April and May. So if we stay on the current trajectory, we will have capacity problems, “Turner said.