HOUSTON — As the number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has reached record highs 12 days in a row, there are warning signs that Houston hospitals are nearing a tipping point.
At the Texas Medical Center in Houston, 97 percent of ICU beds were occupied on Tuesday. Twenty-seven percent of those ICU patients have COVID-19.
The normal base occupancy rate at the world’s largest medical center is 70 to 80 percent.
Hospital officials in other parts of Houston are also reporting that intensive care units — for seriously ill patients, like those on ventilators — are near or over capacity. Local leaders have warned that hospitals could get overwhelmed if the number of infections keeps climbing.
The governor struck a newly urgent tone Monday in a televised press conference to say COVID-19 was “spreading at an unacceptable rate” and that multiple metrics to gauge the virus’ spread and severity had significantly increased. Epidemiologists have attributed upticks in infections and hospitalizations to changes in behavior, including lax mask use and less social distancing.