Texas ER doctor says some hospitals ‘running out of tests’ as state grapples with coronavirus surge

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Texas emergency room physician Dr. Natasha Kathuria told “The Daily Briefing” Friday that some hospitals in the state are “running out of tests” as they grapple with a surge in coronavirus cases.

“We need rapid tests,” Kathuria told host Kristin Fisher. “We can’t do this send-out, three, four-day turnaround on these tests. And some of the hospitals that have rapid testing are running out, and this cannot be an issue.”

She added: “I can’t believe we’re so many months into this pandemic and testing, PPE [personal protective equipment], nursing shortages, all this stuff is still an issue that we’re battling every day.”

On Thursday, Texas officials reported 10,291 new coroanvirus cases and a single-day record 129 additional deaths from COVID-19. Big cities and smaller communities along the Mexican border appear to be the most affected by the outbreak. Hidalgo County, about 220 miles south of San Antonio on the border, has reported more deaths than Houston’s Harris County.

Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County’s public health authority, told The Associated Press it’s not uncommon for the body of a coronavirus patient to lay on a stretcher for 10 hours before it can be removed in the overcrowded hospitals where intensive care space is running short.

“Before someone gets a bed in the COVID ICU unit, someone has to die there,” Melendez said.

Fisher, whose father is an emergency room doctor in Houston, told Kathuria that her description “sounds like we’re getting close to the kinds of decisions that doctors in Italy were having to make. Is that true? Is that really happening in parts of your state?”

“Oh, definitely,” Kathuria responded. “That is certainly happening in parts of our state … things are really devastating. These are not short-term admissions. People are not getting admitted for COVID and discharge in 24 hours. These are often very prolonged — even for normal hospital admissions — for critical patients that are put on ventilators, there is sometimes no end in sight.

“And that trickles down to the rest of the hospital and the ICU is full, the resources are sucked out of the hospital, and then every floor below the icu all the way down to the E.R. gets backlogged and we have to transfer patients to different cities, sometimes different states, and it’s been very devastating.”

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