In Houston, just 27 ICU beds are available. Overflow tents have been built at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital to manage the overwhelming surge of patients.
“The ICUs are full. Every bed is accounted for, and in fact, we have patients waiting in our emergency center for ICU beds to open up… Some wait hours, some wait days, to be frank,” Dr. Kunal Sharma, Chief of Emergency Services at LBJ Hospital, told CBS News’ Janet Shamlian.
Staffing shortages are adding to the wait. Dallas Parkland Hospital, one of the nation’s largest, said it needs 500 more nurses and has had to send some pregnant patients to other hospitals.
More than 10,000 Texans are hospitalized with COVID this week, including 54-year-old Tim Cotto, who is intubated.
“He was in the hospital and needing some support on oxygen, and then all of a sudden, things just drastically changed for him,” his wife Tracy Cotto said.
Tim was at a small, local hospital and when his condition worsened, doctors said he needed to go to one with an ICU. Tracy said they couldn’t find one that would take him as a transfer patient with their insurance in Texas. After posting an online plea on social media, an ICU bed was found.
Tim was transferred a few days later, but his condition is dire. Tracy said he has no pre-existing conditions but wouldn’t say if he was vaccinated. Despite the long road to recovery, Tracy is cautiously optimistic that Tim will return home.
“I don’t really have a choice to think anything else because I have four kids, and they are looking at me to try to lead them and to get through this,” she said. “It’s so terrifying, and I just want to help. But there’s nothing I can do.”