ICU beds are running low, and health care employees are working frantically to find available space for those in need.
At Goodall Witcher Hospital in the central Texas town of Clifton, officials are finding it difficult to transfer Covid-19 patients in need of ICU care to other hospitals since they are at capacity, they say.
“We have no beds, and then that’s the end of the conversation. Some will say ‘we are closed, we are on full divert, we’ve been on full divert for two weeks,'” McCabe told KWTX. “Sometimes on the other end of the phone you get someone that says, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.’ Because they know we are desperate.”
McCabe said staffers themselves have lost relatives or friends while providing care at the rural hospital. “A nurse, a sonographer and one of our physicians all lost someone either Saturday or Sunday to Covid. The youngest was 21, the oldest was 38,” McCabe told KWTX.
“I have no way of knowing if an ICU bed would have saved him,” Squyres said. “But he’s not the only one, there are so many others.”
Data shows uphill battle to slow pandemic
However, children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, and Texas has the most pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations in the nation at 239, according to the latest data released Monday by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Florida, which has also been hit hard with pediatric infections and received criticism alongside Texas for state leaders’ refusals to allow for local mask mandates, had 170 children in hospitals with Covid-19.
Local districts defy mask mandate ban
Elected state officials have made it no secret that they intend to continue preventing local school districts from enforcing mandatory mask wearing in schools.
“I’m committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of all Texans,” Paxton said on Twitter.
“The board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees,” the district said in a statement.
“The Texas governor does not have the authority to usurp the board of trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district,” it said.
With Abbott — who is fully vaccinated and assured Texans Wednesday that he was in good spirits — testing positive for Covid-19, critics highlighted the moment as additional evidence for mask wearing and caution. Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa urged local governments to continue moving forward with mandates.
“I wish Governor Abbott well — no one deserves to be sick or to suffer from this unyielding virus. My hope is that the governor will realize how vulnerable we are in the face of this health crisis, stop playing politics, and do what is necessary for the health of all Texans,” Hinojosa said.
“Children’s lives cannot be negotiated for a potential political win. I commend the nearly dozen school districts and local governments who continue to defy the governor’s orders and in spite of forceful opposition, choose to do the right thing for the safety of our kids and communities.”
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Raja Razek, Ray Sanchez, Kay Jones, Nicole Williams and Mallory Simon contributed to this report.