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'Things Are Bad': Report Details How Rising COVID-19 Cases Are Putting Pressure On DFW Hospitals

Hospitals in Dallas and Tarrant Counties could be full in the next 30 days if hospitalizations keep rising at the same alarming rate, according to a new report from the UNT Health Science Center.

Report author Rajesh Nandy said he does not expect hospitals to fill up completely, because they can usually make room for more patients — but that has other consequences.

"Hospitals are also experiencing shortages of staff,” Nandy said. “So in the opposite direction, the problem could be that there may be available beds but there may not be enough staff to attend to those beds.”

Local hospital leaders are worried about their exhausted, burnt-out staff. They’ve spent months fighting a new, relentless disease, and the pandemic is so bad that reinforcements are scarce.

Daily case numbers in North Texas keep breaking records, and the region hasn't hit a peak yet, Nandy said.

And whenever there are more cases, a few weeks later, a spike in deaths follows. The report predicts that there will be 2,600 COVID-related deaths in Texas in the next two weeks.

"I would say the single biggest takeaway is things are bad,” Nandy said.

The report has several recommendations “to prevent a catastrophic effect on the healthcare system."

  • Closing bars and limiting restaurant capacity, because it’s impossible to wear a mask while eating and drinking
  • Avoiding family holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah
  • Limiting shopping trips to what’s strictly necessary
  • Closing gyms and other shared spaces in apartment complexes
  • Expanding testing to people who don’t have any COVID symptoms, to catch outbreaks earlier

People need to stay vigilant until there’s a vaccine, the report says.

If all else fails, the report recommends another stay-at-home order. Gov. Greg Abbott said last week during a visit to Lubbock that there will not be another statewide shutdown.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Fort Worth reporter.