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No pediatric ICU beds left in Dallas amid COVID surge, county judge says

Child COVID cases soar as schools debate mask mandates
COVID cases in children soar as schools debate mask mandates 02:28

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Friday there were no pediatric intensive care unit beds available in Dallas, Texas and there haven't been for the past 24 hours. Surging COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant and hospital staffing shortages in the area may be in part to blame.

"In Dallas, we have zero ICU beds left for children," Jenkins said Friday at a virtual news conference. "That means if your child's in a car wreck, if your child has a congenital heart defect or something and needs an ICU bed, or more likely if they have COVID and need an ICU bed, we don't have one. Your child will wait for another child to die." 

He said the same is true for pediatric ICU beds in the 19 surrounding counties as well, mentioning that young patients may have to be transported farther away for care. 

"Your child will just not get on the ventilator," he said. "Your child will be CareFlighted to Temple or Oklahoma City or wherever we can find them a bed, but they won't be getting one here unless one clears and that's been true for 24 hours." 

As of August 6, there were 573 children aged 0 to 17 hospitalized from COVID-19 complications in Dallas County since the beginning of the pandemic, according to weekly data published by the Dallas County Department of Health

Texas Hospitals Cope With State's Surge In Coronavirus Cases
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 2: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Members of the medical staff rest on a stretcher in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on July 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care wards to full capacity and sparking concerns about a surge in fatalities as the virus spreads. / Getty Images

Jenkins said ICU capacity isn't much better for adults in the area either. 

More than 90% of ICU beds throughout Texas are full, leaving only 321 beds left for the 30 million people in the state. A doctor at Houston's LBJ Hospital said some patients have to wait hours or days before being seen by a health professional. 

"The ICUs are full," Dr. Kunal Sharma, Chief of Emergency Services at LBJ Hospital told CBS News' Janet Shamlian. "Every bed is accounted for."

North Texas' ICU capacity issues are also coupled with hospital staffing shortages. State health officials this week warned lawmakers of the "crisis" which they said is on the verge of "disaster."

"I am frightened by what is coming," Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, the CEO for the Harris County hospital district said Tuesday to the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. He mentioned that if COVID-19 cases continue to increase at the rate of which they are going, "There is no way my hospital is going to be able to handle this. There is no way the region is going to handle this." 

Dallas Parkland Hospital -- one of the nation's largest -- said it needs 500 more nurses and that some pregnant patients have been sent to other hospitals in order to receive care as a result of staffing shortages. 

"I am faced with a workforce who is tired, overworked, and constantly under siege," Porsa told the committee. 

As a means to help lessen the strain on suffering hospitals, Jenkins emphasized an order he signed Wednesday requiring public schools, child care centers and businesses in Dallas County to develop health and safety plans that include, at minimum, face mask requirements for employees and visitors. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has filed a petition to halt it. 

"Our hospitals and our people desperately need some time to get bed capacity and doctor capacity up so their hospitals won't be overrun," he said. 

Earlier this week, Jenkins also sued Abbott over the executive order banning mask mandates, and a district judge issued a temporary injunction to halt it. A hearing on the temporary injunction against the ban on mask mandates scheduled for August 24. 

"[It's] not asking that much of people to wear a mask," Jenkins said Friday.   

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