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'It Just Exploded On Us': Coastal Bend Tries To Contain COVID-19 As ICU Capacity Dwindles

The marina in Corpus Christi in 2012.
The marina in Corpus Christi in 2012.

From Texas Standard:

Corpus Christi is experiencing a significant increase in new coronavirus cases. The city's hospitals are struggling to care for the increased number of patients, and the mayor will soon impose new measures he hopes will slow the spread of the virus in the community. Corpus Christi is also a major port, and attracts thousands of tourists to its beaches each year.

At the start of this week, only nine ICU beds were reportedly available in the Coastal Bend region where Corpus Christi is located.  Joe McComb is Corpus Christi's mayor. He told Texas Standard host David Brown on Tuesday that in addition to the small number of hospital beds available, he's also concerned about health care workers who have been fighting COVID-19 for months. 

"Some of them are just getting worn out physically," McComb said. 

Some have also contracted the virus.

"We're doing the best with what we have," he said. "It just exploded on us."

McComb said Corpus Christi is working with the state of Texas to get additional testing kits and other needed supplies. 

"The state has really been very responsive," McComb said. "Part of [the problem] is the supply chain."

He pointed out that bigger cities in Texas are also seeking supplies, which means resources are stretched.

With the July Fourth holiday weekend approaching, Corpus Christi, and Nueces County, are restricting access to local beaches. But McComb said it's not so much the beaches themselves that create added risk for coronavirus spread, but the entertainment that surrounds around the beaches, like restaurants and other indoor venues.

"It's the lure of the beach that's the problem," he said. "It's not the beach."

McComb encouraged people in Corpus Christi to follow the advice medical professionals have been giving for months like practicing social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. But he doesn't believe more mandates will change people's behavior.

"Wear the mask, continue to do the hygiene things, wash your hands, don't touch your face," he said. "And for goodness sake, if you're sick, stay away from healthy people; and if you're healthy, stay away from sick people."

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

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