World’s Largest Medical Complex’s ICU Capacity Hits 100%

Houston's Texas Medical Center, considered the largest medical complex in the world, reached 100 percent ICU occupancy Thursday, as Texas continues to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.

According to a document obtained by The Houston Chronicle, about 28 percent of ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, while 72 percent of them are currently occupied by non-COVID-19 patients.

The news comes as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise throughout Texas. In Harris County, where Houston is located, there are currently over 25,000 confirmed cases and at least 346 deaths. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently over 125,000 confirmed cases in Texas and at least 2,249 fatalities.

Just a day prior to reaching the 100 percent occupancy rate for ICU beds, Texas Medical Center issued a statement suggesting that it could handle the surge in cases but the ICU capacity was being stretched.

"If this trend continues, our hospital system capacity will become overwhelmed, leading us to make difficult choices of delaying much-needed non-COVID care to accommodate a greater number of COVID patients," according to the statement. "We are therefore calling upon the people of Houston to do their part in helping us to slow the spread of this dangerous virus."

The medical center added that it was seeing an increase in the number of younger patients being admitted.

"Young people tend to be more active in communal gathering, which can further contribute to the spread of the virus," it said. "To that end, we implore young citizens to take it upon themselves to commit to physically distance as much as possible and to wear masks when socializing with one another."

The increase in cases across Texas recently forced Governor Greg Abbott to pause the state's reopening plan Thursday.

"As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families," Abbott said in a press release. "The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.

"I ask all Texans," he continued, "to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business."

Newsweek reached out to officials from the Harris County Health Department and the Texas Medical Center for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.



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