TEXAS, USA — The Tyler-Longview area has crossed a dangerous milestone — the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began and other areas in East Texas are headed in the same direction.
“The speed is what really has been concerning,” said Dr. John Carlo with the Texas Medical Association. "Even more concerning he said, is where we’re headed in the next couple of weeks as cases show no signs of slowing down.
The Tyler-Longview area is included in Trauma Service Area (TSA) G. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), as of Wednesday, TSA G had 702 hospitalizations from COVID-19 and 13 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds available. The Lufkin-Nacogdoches area is included in TSA H. They currently have 160 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and three vacant ICU beds.
Dr. Carlo said not even the winter COVID-19 surge filled hospitals as quickly as they’re filling now.
“There are situations when you simply run out of space, and you have to, you know, have alternative solutions, such as transfers, or what they call 'diversion,'” he explained.
It’s a race against the worst-case scenario.
“We have to move into a different set of criteria in order to determine how we allocate the intensive care unit beds and potentially the ventilators if they're not available," Dr. Carlo said. "We have to make tough, tough decisions in deciding which patients might receive the resources and which patients may not.”
It’s not something doctors want to think about, but they have no choice. Not having enough space may be second only to not having enough staff.
“If we don't have the nursing capacity, if we don't have the staffing capacity, the number of beds really doesn't matter,” said Dr. Carlo.