Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Expanding Hospital Capacity After Virus Spike

Photo credit Chris Fox / KRLD
By NewsRadio 1080 KRLD

Governor Greg Abbott Thursday issued an Executive Order to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Governor’s order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties.

Under this order, the Governor directs all hospitals in these counties 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.

Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Governor Abbott. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”

Elective surgeries were initially paused statewide by the Governor. The restrictions were lifted April 22 as the state began to reopen. 

However, in recent days coronavirus cases have begun to surge again.

Still, the Governor's order may be premature, according to the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council.

"We're running about 69-70 percent med-surge capacity and about 70 perecent In the ICU capacity" said Steven Love."We felt like we could handle the situation."

Love notes the elective surgeries can continue in all the counties surrounding Dallas, including Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Rockwall and Ellis.

ONLINE: Governor Greg Abbott's new Executive Order (GA 27)

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services says hospitals in North Texas had 1,130 COVID-19 patients Thursday morning. Hospitals had 3,113 available beds (about 69% of beds are occupied), 405 available ICU beds and 1,271 available ventilators (about 38 percent of ventilators are in use).