Holiday gatherings lead to jump in hospitalizations in Rio Grande Valley, doctor says
As ICU beds in the Rio Grande Valley begin to fill up, a local doctor says it’s a result of people gathering during the holidays last year.
"Around Christmas gatherings and New Year's,” said Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo. “The incubation period, the time it takes for someone to get exposed until they start with symptoms, can be up to 14 days."
Then it’s another one or two weeks until some patients get sick enough that they need to go to the hospital. It’s been four weeks since Christmas and the latest numbers show that 417 out of 456 ICU beds in the Rio Grande Valley are being used.
Castillo says it’s a new peak for hospitalizations. A total of 39 ICU beds available in all four counties as of Tuesday evening.
"Right now, I think patients who need the ICU beds have them, but it's very tight,” Castillo said. “And hopefully there's not more admissions and more demand."
Castillo said it’s likely if hospitals run out of staffed ICU beds, ventilators or people to run the ventilators, hospitals might be forced to send COVID-19 patients to other parts of Texas.
"Once the capacity is filled up within an ambulance ride, then you start seeing patients fly up to Houston or San Antonio,” Castillo said.
Castillo said for newly diagnosed people who have a high risk of hospitalization, the infusion center is available and suggested, as long as patients talk it over with their doctors. Nearly 800 high-risk patients have used the effective early treatment for, including those who are over 65, obese and have diabetes.
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