Health

Houston Hospitals Warn That System Is Nearing Capacity As Younger People Drive Coronavirus Surge

MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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The largest medical center in Houston warned Wednesday that the city’s hospital capacity could soon become overrun amid a coronavirus surge driven by younger patients being admitted to hospitals.

“While everyone is susceptible to contracting COVID-19, we are seeing significantly larger number of younger patients being admitted to our hospitals,” the Texas Medical Center said in a statement.

“Young people tend to be more active in communal gathering, which can further contribute to the spread of the virus,” TMC added. “To that end, we implore young citizens to take it upon themselves to commit to physically distance as much as possible and to wear masks when socializing with one another.”

Like many cities across the country, Houston was the site of large protests in late May and early June following the police killing of George Floyd, a native of Houston.

Some of the protesters that joined the large demonstrations in the city began testing positive for coronavirus by mid-June, according to local news reports.

“I actually got sick the day after the march,” said Shamone Turner, who attended a 60,000-person march on June 1. “I could not move out of the bed. I was in the bed just sighing.”

“I definitely don’t regret getting the COVID, because I was out there doing the right thing for the right cause,” Turner told Fox 26 Houston, adding that she and several of her other friends who tested positive for the virus after attending the march were all wearing masks.

Thousands gather to protest and mourn George Floyd in Houston, Texas on May 29, 2020. (MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

ICU bed capacity at TMC stood at 97% of normal levels as of Wednesday afternoon, compared to its normal base occupancy of around 70 to 80 percent. While the system has the ability to increase its capacity for about 1,000 additional beds for public health emergencies, that emergency capacity could be exhausted within the next two weeks, KHOU-11 reported.

“We appear to be nearing the tipping point,” Houston Methodist hospital system CEO Marc Boom told hospital employees in an email Friday. “Should the number of new cases grow too rapidly, it will eventually challenge our ability to treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID 19 patients.”

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said during a press conference Wednesday that the state is facing a “massive outbreak” of coronavirus across the state.

“Wearing a mask or facial covering in public is an effective way for Texans to protect themselves and others from the transmission of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “This program helps ensure that Texans have the resources they need to effectively mitigate the spread of this virus and keep themselves and their communities safe.”

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in 27 states across the country as younger people are increasingly becoming infected with the virus. (RELATED: Texas Governor Says Coronavirus ‘Spreading At An Unacceptable Rate’ As People Under 50 Increasingly Become Hospitalized)

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