Odessa could face partial shutdown if coronavirus hospitalizations keep rising

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) -

Lubbock doctors are warning the public that they may have to shut down their economy again if more coronavirus patients keep pouring into their hospitals, and Odessa is in the same boat.

In Lubbock, COVID patients make up about 13% of their hospitals' capacity. If they reach 15%, shutdowns will be triggered.

“Restaurants, bars, gyms," Chief Medical Officer of Covenant Health Dr. Craig Rhyne said. "He will shut things back down.”

In Odessa, our doctors are having a similar conversation.

Dr. Saravanan with Odessa Regional Medical Center says 10-12% of our hospitals are occupied by COVID patients.

If many more check in, doctors will talk to Ector County Judge Debi Hays to figure out how businesses will have to scale back to stop more spreading.

“So, it will not be a switch like suddenly restaurants are closed,” Saravanan said. “It will be more like saying ok now let’s go to 50% or now let’s go to no dine in options but take out only. Something like that.”

Here’s why that 15% is the dreaded number.

Saravanan explains hospitals usually leave about 20% of their beds open in case they get a big surge of patients who need treatment. But if that space is filled with COVID patients, their pediatric staff will be seriously strained to take care of both COVID and flu patients at once.

“It’s the personnel,” he said. “It’s getting the nurses and get to the respiratory therapists that at are needed to take care of this gratuity of patients that’s related to COVID-19.”

It’s a worrisome thought for Saravanan. He said many Odessans are tired of social distancing by now, but they still need to protect each other until a vaccine is approved.

“Just hold on a little bit longer,” he said. “I think we can get through it much better without having to lose lives, without having to stress out the healthcare system, not being able to take care of other things were used to taking care of.”

Until then, Saravanan said they’ve asked the state for help and hope they’ll send in more staff members to Odessa soon.

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