07 de agosto de 2020
English - News

Texas, Florida hospitals on verge of collapse while Trump does nothing

Washington, Jul 6 (efe-epa).- Some hospitals in the states of Texas and Florida are on the verge of having no additional beds for coronavirus - or any other - patients while the White House continues without any discernible national strategy to confront the pandemic and insists that the "vast majority of people" are safe from the virus.

On Monday, the mayors of San Antonio and Austin, along with the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida, warned that their local hospital systems are at the limit of their capacity and are filling the last beds in their intensive care units.

"The time is now ticking in terms of our hospital capacity in San Antonio just like a lot of other big cities in Texas," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told CNN.

The mayor warned that if Covid-19 cases continue to increase at the current rate, San Antonio is "a week away from running out of hospital beds and ICU capacity."

In Texas, the large cities - most of them governed by Democratic mayors - are fighting a battle against Republican state Gov. Greg Abbott, who continues to resist imposing strict measures against the virus and is refusing to allow local authorities to adopt them.

In that regard, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, asked Abbott on Monday to return autonomy to the cities and allow them to implement their own measures to contain the virus.

Adler is considering issuing a "stay-at-home order" with the aim of obligating Austin residents to abide by a quarantine and, thus, diminish pressure on area hospitals.

In recent days, the cities of Houston and Fort Worth have also expressed their concern over the lack of available hospital beds while in the Rio Grande Valley along the border with Mexico 10 of the 12 hospitals have already reached their limit, given that the number of patients has doubled over the past two weeks.

In all, of the 69,000 available hospital beds in Texas, 55,800 are occupied - 81 percent - according to figures released Monday by the state health department.

Meanwhile, the increase in cases in Florida has put hospitals in the less populated counties like Clay and St. Lucie in the crosshairs, where only 4 percent of the beds in the ICUs remain unoccupied.

In addition, in Miami-Dade County, the epicenter of the coronavirus in Florida, 80 percent of the ICU beds are occupied, according to figures provided Monday by the state health agency.

Because of the seriousness of the situation, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Monday that starting on July 8 all restaurants (except for so-called meals "on wheels" or for pickup), as well as hair salons, banquet halls, gymnasiums, party sites and short-term vacation rental accommodations (like Airbnb), will be closed.

"We want to ensure that our hospitals continue to have the staffing necessary to save lives," said Gimenez in a statement.

In the last 24 hours, Florida registered 6,336 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, a figure that is a slight improvement compared with the daily records of 10,000-plus cases set over the previous two days.

Over the past five days, 14 of the 50 US states, including Florida, have registered record numbers of newly confirmed virus cases and nationwide 250,000 new cases were announced, the equivalent of the population of Buffalo, New York.

In addition, Nevada and Arizona have seen in recent days the highest figures to date for virus hospitalizations.

In Nevada, the hospitals are at 68 percent of their capacity, while in Arizona they are at 84 percent and the situation is even worse in the state's ICUs, where 89 percent of the beds are taken, according to official data from the two states.

For the past month, the virus has been hitting the southern and western states very hard, the first states to reopen their economies, while in many eastern cities - like Boston, New York and Washington DC - the number of new cases is much lower.

Despite these figures, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Monday said that the "vast majority of people are safe" from the virus, adding that US President Donald Trump was "right" when he made certain controversial comments on Saturday.

"If you're over 80 years of age or if you have three what they call co-morbidities ... then you need to be very, very careful. Outside of that, the risks are extremely low," Meadows told Fox News.

The president said on July 4 that "99 percent" of the cases "are totally harmless," a comment that is not born out by the facts given that the virus mortality index in the US is 4.6 percent - meaning that 4.6 percent of the known coronavirus cases result in the death of the patient, according to The Johns Hopkins University.

According to JHU, the US continues to lead the world in numbers of confirmed virus cases with 2.89 million people having been infected - some of whom have now recovered - while 130,000 people have died.



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