Texas gov asks hospitals to postpone elective surgeries

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott asked the state’s hospitals Monday to consider postponing all elective surgeries Monday in order to combat a surge in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

In a letter to the Texas Hospital Association, Abbott asked medical centers to “to take steps to ensure the availability of adequate hospital capacity to care for COVID-19 patients.” In addition to rescheduling elective procedures “for which delay will not result in loss of life or a deterioration in the patient’s condition.”

Abbott also ordered the opening of five new centers to provide antibody treatments for COVID-19 in addition to an existing facility in Lubbock.

The seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas had reached 8,432 Sunday, up nearly fivefold from the seven-day average of 1,475 at the end of June. In his letter, Abbott warned that more of the Lone Star State’s 22 Trauma Service Areas are approaching “a seven-day period where the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients as a percentage of total hospital capacity exceeds 15 percent.”

A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in theCOVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on October 31, 2020 in Hous ton, Texas
A medical staff member treats a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas.
Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Abbott further directed the Department of State Health Services Monday to use staffing agencies to help locate out-of-state medical personnel who could help out at overstretched Texas health care facilities.

Hospital officials in Houston said last week that area hospitals with beds had insufficient numbers of nurses to serve them. As a result, some patients had to be transferred out of the city to get medical care, with one patient even being sent to North Dakota.

“The State of Texas is taking action to combat the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and ensure that our hospitals and communities have the resources and support they need to mitigate the virus,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texans can help bolster our efforts by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it is our best defense against this virus.”

Last month, Abbott signed an executive order banning government agencies and municipalities from imposing mask and vaccination mandates. That order is being challenged in court by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat.

A healthcare worker passes out self swab Covid-19 tests at a drive-thru testing site at Acres Homes Multi-Service Center in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.
A healthcare worker passes out self swab Covid-19 tests at a drive-thru testing site at Acres Homes Multi-Service Center in Houston, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.
Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Dallas school district announced Monday that it would require students and staff to wear face masks starting Tuesday. The Houston school district already announced a mask mandate for its students and staff later this week if its board approves. A group of parents sued the Houston Independent School District over the weekend, challenging the requirements.

About 45 percent of Texas’ population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With Post wires