CENTRAL, Texas — The Bell County Public Health District reported 83 new cases Wednesday, the largest one day increase by more than double. The total number of cases Wednesday was 903. Bell County Judge David Blackburn said Wednesday his biggest concern was the hospital bed capacity in Trauma Service Area L, which includes Bell County.
According to state data, the numbers don't look too bad at first. Trauma Service Area L has 33 lab-confirmed coronavirus patients in hospitals and 212 available beds out of a maximum 1,008. All of the general hospitals in the trauma service area are included in that number, according to Texas Department of State Health Services.
Blackburn, however, was worried about another set of numbers. Bell County alone had 15 coronavirus patients in hospitals but 11 of those patients were in the ICU as of Wednesday. Meanwhile, the entire trauma service area only had another 12 ICU beds free for additional patients. So if just 12 of the more than five hundred cases Bell County is currently tracking take a turn for the worst, Bell County would have a problem.
"That is concerning to me on several levels," Blackburn told reporters Wednesday. "
McLennan County, on the other hand, is in Trauma Service Area M. That area has either 14 or 15 lab-confirmed patients in hospitals (state and local data charts don't line up) and 196 beds available out of 619. Trauma Service Area M has seven more ICU beds available and 362 active cases. While you could make the same assertion concerning the assessment of McLennan County, officials say they have plenty of space.
City of Waco spokesman Larry Holze told 6 News in an email, that "currently only 7.2% of the reported cases are hospitalized which does not constitute a problem with both of the hospitals in Waco... At this time both Waco hospitals have not indicated that the 15 hospitalized COVID-19 cases present any problem with ample additional beds, etc. available."
In both counties, people ages 20-29 make up the largest percentage of the population currently testing positive for the virus. That is not a problem short-term, as that age demographic has a much smaller chance of being hospitalized with symptoms. If, however, younger individuals spread the virus to the 50+ age category it would be a different story.
Officials continue to ask the public to wash hands, social distance and wear face coverings to protect the most vulnerable parts of the population.
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