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'Crisis mode': Houston hospital putting up tents for COVID-19 overflow patients, officials say

They say 63% of the ICU patients at LBJ have COVID-19; Ben Taub's ICU is at 95% capacity and 27 percent of its ICU patients are being treated for COVID-19.

HOUSTON — As COVID continues to spread like wildfire, the Harris County Health System is feeling the strain.

LBJ Hospital in Houston is reporting its ICU is at 100% capacity and 63% of those patients have COVID,  according to Harris Health.

The county-run hospital is adding several tents for its COVID-19 overflow patients but they don't have the staff available to operate them yet.

LBJ's CEO said too many people are in the ER and there’s not enough personnel to help deal with the increase in ER patients and COVID patients. 

RELATED: Gov. Abbott asks Texas hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures; urges Texans to get vaccinated

"We are not talking about a crisis a week 10 days, 14 days from now. We are in a crisis mode today," President and CEO of Harris Health System Esmaeil Porsa said last week.

"In my LBJ hospital, more than 50% of the ICU patients are now COVID positive, which is a huge burden," Porsa said.

Ben Taub, the other county-run hospital, reports its ICU is at 95% capacity with 27% of the patients diagnosed with COVID.

RELATED: Hospitals facing nurse shortage as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb

To help, the county has shifted some workers around and closed two clinics, Vallbona Health Center and Squatty Lyons Health Center. The staff from these two clinics are being transferred to help the two hospitals.

Harris Health System has also stopped all elective surgeries at both Ben Taub and Lyndon B. Johnson hospitals to mediate the surge in COVID-19 patients.

County judge Lina Hidalgo says she's considering whether an emergency shelter like the one set up at NRG Park when the pandemic first started will be needed.

"It's not something that is top of mind right now because the beds to some extent are there. The concern is the staffing," Hidalgo said.

On Tuesday, Harris County Commissioners could vote to continue funding a COVID isolation facility.

"It's been operational now for over a year, and it has helped isolate and quarantine more than 500 individuals," explained Marc Eichenbaum who is Special Assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives.

The city and county provide housing and services at a local hotel for COVID patients that don't need to be hospitalized… but don't have a place to quarantine.

RELATED: Harris Health System in 'crisis mode' without enough staff to deal with increase in patients, CEO says

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