Hidalgo County, Starr County and Valley Baptist Health System warn hospitals are at capacity
Hidalgo County, Starr County and the Valley Baptist Health System warned Friday that Rio Grande Valley hospitals, faced with an influx of coronavirus patients, had hit capacity.
Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen had 141 "COVID-19 related patients" on Friday afternoon, according to a news release from the health system. Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville had 97.
"To put this in perspective for our community, our hospitals are now at a total of 102 percent and 101 percent occupancy, respectively and this includes both COVID-19 related and non COVID-19 related patient beds," according to a statement from health system CEO Manny Vela.
The statement implored Valley residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands frequently.
“More than 40 percent of the hospitals’ current census is occupied by COVID-19 positive or suspected patients. What that means is that we are now at the point of grave concern,” Vela said in the statement. “Our entire teams are working around the clock to identify additional locations for patient care and we are working closely with the TRAC-V to bring in additional staff to help our hospitals manage this surge."
Vela asked Valley residents to take COVID-19 seriously and avoid large gatherings over the holiday weekend.
“What we need most right now is for our community to please hear us. This pandemic is real. It is in our community and it’s on the rise. If this surge continues as it has over the past week, we will have a very real need to open some type of alternative care site in our community so that additional care can be provided for those that will inevitably require hospitalization,” Vela said in the statement. “Especially during this holiday weekend, we beg our community to please be safe, please avoid large gatherings, please wear your mask and please continuously wash your hands. One of the most patriotic things that we can do for each other this year to make a few small sacrifices for the good of our community.”
Hidalgo County also sent out an emergency alert on Friday afternoon.
"HIDALGO COUNTY: HOSPITALS ARE AT CAPACITY," read the alert from Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez. "Celebrate 4th of July responsibly, SHELTER-IN-PLACE and avoid gatherings of 10+ people. Wear a face covering and social distance. Protect yourself and your family."
Dr. Jose Vazquez, the Starr County health authority, said Friday afternoon that every hospital in the Valley is full — and patients are being transported to other parts of Texas.
"There are no beds in the Valley, Vazquez said. "We are becoming New York."
According to a post in the county’s Facebook page, Starr County Judge Eloy Vera urges urging all residents to shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings.