As a word of caution, Pittsburg Mayor David Abernathy recently offered sobering updates on local COVID-19 cases.
“From day one of the COVID-19 outbreak, the primary focus has been on not overwhelming the health care system,” Abernathy wrote. “This includes the hospital bed capacity and the hospital staff capacity to deal with all hospitalization cases including COVID-19. Texas, along with many other states, is experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 positive cases and in the number of individuals with COVID-19 who are so ill that they require hospitalization. As the hospitalizations increase, an increase in the number of deaths can also be expected.
Let’s put this in perspective.
• Texas is experiencing over 10,000 new positive cases EACH DAY.
• Many of us know someone who has been hospitalized with COVID-19.
• According to the CDC, the number of deaths in Texas from COVID-19 is about as many as from pneumonia and multiple times those of influenza so far this year. Data from DSHS reports 19,004 fatalities from COVID-19 alone as of 11/11/2020.
• There are 23 hospital regions in Texas. As of 11/11/2020, 12 of them are above 15% of COVID-19 hospitalizations to all hospitalizations. This is the percentage that the Texas Department of State Health Services has stated was a threshold that we should try to stay below to not overwhelm our healthcare system.
• The hospital region that we are in is at 16%.
• Currently, at least two of the regions in the state are overwhelmed, requiring outside assistance with staffing, makeshift hospitals, and unfortunately – refrigerated morgue trailers because the local mortuaries couldn’t accommodate the number of fatalities. One region has requested a substantial number of additional ventilators from the state.
• There is no single medicine that is designated as a cure for COVID-19.
Vaccines are on the horizon but will take several months to finalize tests, produce, distribute and administer across the state, nation and world. And, during this process, we will still need to take the same precautions to avoid the spread and exposure. Almost all of the proposed vaccines will require two doses.
The clear message has been the same as it has been from the beginning of this worldwide pandemic. Do everything we can to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system and protect those most vulnerable in our population. Face coverings, distancing, washing hands often, sanitizing commonly touched surfaces and avoiding crowds still remain among the best practices.