On Thursday morning, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order suspending “elective surgeries” at hospitals in four of the state’s largest counties: Harris, Dallas, Bexar, and Travis.
Under the order, hospitals in the county are directed to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”
In March, Governor Abbott restricted “non-essential surgeries” statewide. In April, Abbott issued another executive order easing those restrictions, but still required hospitals to reserve a certain number of beds for coronavirus patients.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased notably in the past few weeks, but the hospitalization rate of people infected with the virus has remained steady.
Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council President Stephen Love released a statement on Wednesday reassuring the public that hospital capacity is currently under control.
After reports yesterday from the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in Houston claimed that the center’s intensive care capacity could soon be exceeded, TMC leaders held a press conference on Thursday stating that the system’s ICU was not in “imminent danger.”
Marc Boom, the CEO of Houston Methodist, reportedly said that compared to a few months ago, the recent coronavirus hospitalizations are among younger patients who have shorter stays at hospitals and that there are fewer deaths.
In addition to issuing the executive order limiting surgeries, Abbott also said that the state would “temporarily pause” further reopening plans.
“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,” said Abbott.
“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.”
As usual, Abbott encouraged the public to wear a mask, wash their hands, and practice social distancing.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.