Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday requested to use a medical center at Fort Bliss for non-COVID-19 patients as coronavirus cases surge in the El Paso area. The request comes as COVID-19 cases have been increasing throughout Texas and the country.
Abbott said Saturday that he had spoken to Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to request use of William Beaumont Army Medical Center to free up beds at the region’s hospitals, according to CBS El Paso affiliate KDBC-TV.
Officials with the University Medical Center of El Paso said Saturday they are working to coordinate airlifting patients requiring critical care to other hospitals in the state. This will be a strictly voluntary decision by the patients and arrangements will be made to bring all patients home to El Paso, KDBC reported.
El Paso officials said 1,216 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday, for a total of 10,911 active cases and 38,554 cumulative cases.
El Paso officials said Saturday one person died, a woman in her 40s with underlying health conditions. There have been 572 deaths in El Paso due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
As of Saturday, there were 715 people hospitalized in El Paso County due to COVID-19, including 199 in intensive care and 85 on ventilators.
Abbott announced earlier this week that he would be sending more than 450 medical personnel to the El Paso area. He also said he will be sending extra equipment including ambulances, patient monitors, patient beds and oxygen concentrators.
“The medical personnel and supplies we are deploying to El Paso build upon the resources the state previously sent to the community and will provide much needed support to area hospitals and first responders,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to work with local officials to protect public health and help the El Paso community mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
A report by UT-Austin released Thursday said “the El Paso region has the most threatening projections, with an estimated 85% probability that COVID-19 cases will exceed local hospital capacity by November 8th, 2020.”
According to the same report, five other regions have a more than 25% chance of hospitals being overwhelmed with in 3 weeks: Amarillo (28%), Lubbock (29%), Wichita Falls (30%), San Angelo (29%) and Galveston (33%).
The Texas Department of Public Health reported Saturday more than 89,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, including more than 6,000 new cases.
Coronavirus cases nationwide have been rising, with more cases reported on Friday than any other single day since the pandemic began.