Hospitalizations Texas update

Hospital Capacity

Texas hospital capacity.

Figure 1 are the official numbers reported to the state. There are several Texas regions over 80% occupancy: Dallas, Houston, Laredo, and RGV. But they seem to be holding their own since my last post. So, looking good… right?

Well, it’s really important that we keep in mind that hospital capacity is a moving target:

1) Hospitals have been opening surge units. In other words, they have been increasing their capacity. If we don’t account for this surge increase, we will never reach “100% capacity” and hospital numbers will continue to be around 80% (and looking great), when in fact, numbers are NOT “normal”;

2) Hospitals can ONLY report available beds to the state if they ARE staffed. So, if a staff member gets sick or takes a vacation (which they should!), the total number of beds will DECREASE for that day.

That brings us to Figure 2. I generated a new category “surge units”. This category accounts for the two moving targets since June 21. By doing this, we can see the impact of opening surge units. Some regions would be in BIG trouble if they didn’t. If the Houston region didn’t open surge units, they would be OVER 90% capacity. Even worse, the San Antonio region wouldn’t have any beds. In fact, they would be short 350 staffed beds.

Translation: Keep in mind these moving targets in mind when these numbers are reported by media.

Love, your local epidemiologist

PS. A few notes:
1. I realize Figure 2 only includes a few select TSAs. This is because I only recorded June 21 data for a certain number of TSAs (and the state does not make historic hospital data available). I’m kicking myself.
2. Figure 3 is TSA region. Texas is so large that epidemiologists use these regions to describe patterns. Counties are within TSA regions.
3. I know a lot of you are interested in ICU capacity. While I have the # of COVID patients in ICU, I do NOT have the total number of ICU beds in each region. So I cannot calculate ICU capacity in each region.

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