Governor touts hospital bed number, pandemic task force leader calls number "dangerous"

While hospital officials say they're near capacity, Mike Parson says there are plenty of beds available.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson visits a restaurant in Cape Girardeau on Wed. Oct. 28, 2020

ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-Despite claims by St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force leader Dr. Alex Garza that local hospitals are nearing capacity, Missouri Governor Mike Parson says they have plenty of room.

During his COVID-19 update in Springfield on Thursday, Parson assured Missourians that the state's healthcare system is still meeting the demand. "Of Missouri's 22,000 total hospital beds," Parson said, "49%, or nearly half, are still available."

When asked about a similar claim during his briefing on Oct. 23, Garza said the state lists 'licensed beds' as opposed to 'staffed beds'. "These are the number of beds we can safely and adequately take care of patients on any given day. That's not reflected in the state databases," said Garza.

"So, when I'm talking about, 'we're at 90 percent capacity or we're at 95 percent capacity'", Garza said, "that's the capacity of our staffed beds. We just can't magically create staffing to take care of patients in a bed."

Garza said it is completely true that hospitals are stressed and are turning away patients because ICUs are full. He calls misinterpreting the number of available beds, "dangerous".
A task force spokesperson says Garza and other medical officials have been talking with state officials about changing the way they list the number of available beds, to reflect the reality of what's happening in the state's hospitals.