AUSTIN, Texas -- With 5,478 Texans having tested positive for coronavirus as of Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott addressed how medical facilities were handling an influx of patients as 827 critically ill people were hospitalized around the state.
Abbott said Texas has doubled its number of available hospital beds in the past two weeks. But hospital officials noted not enough protective gear is available for doctors and nurses, and Texas isn’t getting all the supplies it has requested from the federal government.
"We are fully prepared for the hospital needs of Texans" during this virus outbreak, Abbott said, adding that the steps the state has taken "should prevent us from seeing a New York situation."
In New York state, which leads the nation in virus cases and deaths, hospitals are getting swamped with patients and are facing shortages of ventilators.
According to Abbott, there are currently 19,695 hospital beds available across the state of Texas, with a total of 2,107 intensive care unit beds available.
He also said that there were currently 8,741 ventilators available in Texas should they be needed.
Officials noted there is a "whole new hospital in El Paso that's ready to go," referring to the newly-built William Beaumont Medical Center, which isn't slated to open until later this year. "It would add some substantial capacity."
Right now in El Paso, not including the new Beaumont, officials indicated that 63% of all hospital beds in El Paso are currently available.
"We are sprinting to stay ahead of the curve," Abbott said.
While Abbott believes Texas is “ahead of the curve” in hospital capacity, even groups working with his office said personal protective equipment shortages remain an issue. “We simply don’t have the PPE we need to protect staff,” said Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Hospital Association.
Texas hasn’t received any ventilators from the national stockpile, and although the state received 3.8 million masks from the federal government, a “much larger number” was requested, said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Department of Emergency Management.
He and Abbott steered clear of criticizing the amount of supplies coming from the federal government but acknowledged the private sector was taking on a bigger role.
The governor said over 55,000 Texans had been tested for the virus as Friday, with about 10% coming back positive.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)