With COVID-19 cases spiking in Texas, officials in Austin-Travis County requested state funding to set up an overflow site for patients who need hospital care but weren’t in the ICU. But the Texas Department of State and Health Services rejected the request, saying they wanted to instead focus more on providing adequate hospital staffing. “What we have found is that it is better to care for people who need hospital-level care in the hospital. We want to maximize that before we move to other types of facilities,” department spokesman Chris Van Deusen told the Austin American-Statesman.
However, Austin-Travis County health officials said they made the request for a care site to be set up in the banquet hall of the Travis County Expo Center because hospitals are overwhelmed by ICU patients. COVID patients who require hospital, but not ICU, could go to the overflow site. According to data from Austin Public Health, 223 people are in the ICU with 145 on ventilators as of Wednesday. “The current capacities of the hospital system are being exceeded, causing extended wait times at the door and holding times in emergency departments for patients,” read the request, adding that non-life-threatening surgeries have been delayed.