What happens when there’s no room for the sick people?

It’s already happening in some parts of Texas, mostly out west.

Sarah Vasquez for the Texas Tribune

Presidio and Brewster counties, home to Marfa and Big Bend, along with nearby Culberson County, lead the state in cases per 1,000 residents in the last two weeks, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. In fact, all of West Texas, including Jeff Davis, Hudspeth and El Paso counties, is ablaze with increasing COVID-19 cases and low on hospital beds.

Big Bend Regional Medical Center, the only hospital in Presidio, has just 25 acute care beds. Culberson County’s 2,200 residents have just Culberson Hospital, where there are 14 beds and two ventilators, but at least one doctor said she doesn’t feel adequately prepared to use them.

Patients in dire condition are often transferred from the small towns to regional hospitals in larger metropolitan areas. But those closest hospital systems in El PasoLubbock and Midland, which have more resources, are already struggling with their own influxes of local cases, leaving doctors and county officials worried a bump in cases from Thanksgiving gatherings will fill beds beyond capacity with nowhere left to send the sickest patients.

“It’s unlikely we’d be able to help them at this point,” said Ricardo Samaniego, the county judge of El Paso, where COVID-19 patients occupy more than 35% of hospital beds.

Without El Paso as an option to send patients, nearby doctors and officials are scrambling.

“It’s a scary feeling to have a critically ill patient with nowhere to go,” said Gilda Morales, a Culberson County commissioner and doctor at Culberson Hospital.

She said that in recent weeks, the county has sent struggling patients to hospitals in San Antonio — more than 400 miles away — including Culberson County Judge Carlos Urias, who’s been there for nearly four weeks.

If a flood of residents need to be hospitalized quickly, and cases in San Antonio and other metropolitan areas swell, Culberson might not have the resources to treat everyone in need, Morales said.

“We’re worried those beds will run out, and then what?” Morales said. “We’re all holding our breath because as much as we told people not to get together for Thanksgiving, the holidays and family give a false sense of security.”

Hospitals across the West Texas region are “bumping capacity and stretched absolutely to the limit,” said John Henderson, president of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals. Administrators have struggled to find open beds, in some cases calling 15 or 20 facilities, he said.

“Everyone is headed the wrong direction,” he said. “Every week is a little worse than the last one.”

In Odessa and in neighboring Midland, the area’s three hospitals serve as “referral centers,” accepting patients from small-town facilities that are ill equipped to treat serious illnesses.

“All of our outlying facilities, they don’t have ICUs or ventilators that can take care of patients long term,” said Dr. Rohith Saravanan, chief medical officer of Odessa Regional Medical Center. The hospital in recent weeks added 34 beds for people with COVID-19, and, as of Tuesday, only four were still empty.

“If we see any more sharp rises, I don’t think our hospitals will be able to keep up with capacity,” Saravanan said.

Scenic Mountain Medical Center in Big Spring is one of those outlying community hospitals. The facility’s seven intensive care unit beds are full, as are 18 overflow beds that fill the hallways.

Just as a reminder, people still have heart attacks and get in car crashes and fall down stairs and get shot. They’re competing for increasingly scarce hospital resources with all of the COVID patients, too. I don’t have any answers for this, or at least I don’t have any answers beyond what I and many others have been saying for months – wear your face mask, avoid indoor gatherings, observe social distancing. More to the point, Greg Abbott doesn’t have any answers, either. That’s a lot more consequential.

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13 Responses to What happens when there’s no room for the sick people?

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    I remember hearing employers ask staff to “do more with less” through hard times. Maybe not such good business when people’s lives are in the balance. And with privately-owned hospitals playing their usual Monopoly game, rural folk however used to driving long distances will be forced into some really long hauls to find care. Not an optimal situation, probably unworkable. We must really love that ‘invisible hand’ that’s supposed to be watching over us.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Well, for starters, we could make the HCQ/azithromycin/zinc treatment easier for people to access early on, when that treatment is shown to be most effective. How many of the almost quarter of a million dead Americans could have been saved had they had access to that treatment early on before they got really sick and ended up dying of secondary bacterial pneumonia or other ailments? The people who fought so hard against a cheap treatment shown to have efficacy are IMHO, mass murderers. Heck, even if you still think that wouldn’t have helped, Americans have the “right to try’ enshrined by Trump’s executive order. The MSM, anti-Trump medical folks, and others, that turned HCQ from an extremely safe drug used for 60 years into a nightmare boogieman killer are responsible for American deaths. They killed with misinformation, and none of them have been arrested for their crimes. They murdered Americans, no different than if they had gone out on a shooting or stabbing spree.

    There are now OTHER treatments that seem to have efficacy. Make those more available as well, so people have choices, even if those choices are made by political affiliation, which is the dumbest shit imaginable, but here we are.

    And I’ll just point out again that having more patients is VERY GOOD for struggling rural hospitals. Without patients, those hospitals will close for good, then we won’t even be talking about whether or not they will be overrun, they will be shuttered totally.

  3. Ross says:

    Bill, there is zero evidence of the efficacy of HCQ/AZ with respect to Covid. There are numerous studies showing additional cardiac issues from the combination, though.

    As for the rural hospitals, the ones most at risk of closing don’t have much in the way of ICU beds, nor do they currently have the staff to deal with large influxes of patients.

    The best plan here is to make everyone wear a mask, which does help reduce the incidence of Covid, and minimize the number of people running around and doing things in large groups, like going to church. Going to church is a high risk activity.

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    Our esteemed (this claim is disputed) Governor Abbott has already forced everyone to wear a mask and ‘social distance’ in businesses, churches, etc. If that reduced the incidence of Covid, then why are we seeing this [OMG] horrible spike right now? Everyone’s already wearing a mask! But the cases are still increasing! How is this possible? I hate wearing the masks but I don’t want to cause any business I patronize grief by going without one, and to me, it looks like compliance with the mask mandate is pretty high.

    As an aside, and just a personal observation, if there is any good thing that has come from this, it’s that it has taught people about personal space. I always hated when I was in line somewhere and the person behind me was 6 inches away. I don’t know you, and I don’t want to know you that well, so please step back a couple of feet.

    As to the HCQ, I’ve got a simple suggestion…..make it, and many other non narcotic drugs available without a prescription, but insist on a pharmacist consult when selling them to the public. So have your pharmacist tell prospective buyers about whatever heart concerns they have with HCQ, then….sell it to them! Let the patient make the decision what is appropriate for the patient. My body, my choice, right?

  5. Manny says:

    Will the real Bill Daniels please stand up;-)

    Bill ranting on Big Jolly;

    “We really have to hope that the courts and legislatures recognize and reverse the fraud, because if the final choice is the Insurrection Act and military tribunals….it won’t be pretty, but it will be necessary and I’ll support it 100%. Why do you think Trump is making moves, booting Esper and others, installing Trump loyalists in high ranking military positions. If the fraud isn’t addressed, don’t think Trump won’t use the military. He doesn’t bluff, and I’m sure military intelligence is keeping an eye on the fraud, so even though the swampy, compromised Department of Justice is going to be AWOL, there are patriots in the military that will stand up and show up.”

    Bill may be you can a real job now that you will lose your troll pay;-)

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    Here’s GA Senator Elena Parent vociferously opposing Dominion Voting machines because they aren’t safe…..in a time before they were rigged against Trump. Every questionable state used…..Dominion Voting machines. Every questionable state stopped their vote counting, all around the same time, when Trump was leading massively. Weird coincidences, huh? Almost like there was a coordinated plan. Even here in Texas, the one place that had affiliation with Dominion miraculously turned blue, Tarrant County. Weird.


    This is the same Elena who laughably claimed a video just released hours before of actual voter fraud and illegal actions by voter workers had been “thoroughly debunked.” No one had seen the tape who COULD debunk it. Counting votes after booting out poll watchers violates Georgia law! We saw a crime happen, heard testimony supporting what we saw, and what a difference between Elena then, and Elena now. Why is that, Manny?

    By the way, feel free to repost all my thoughts on BJP…..they’re all gold, each and every one of them. I just ask that you quote the whole post. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable ask, Manny. TIA

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    Oh, and Manny, here’s video proof of one of your, uh, election enthusiasts, Ruby Freeman, loading the same batch of ballots into the tabulator THREE times, while the, what shall we call them….the Dominion 4, work diligently in secret, after all the press and poll watchers were removed.


    Wanna bet if you’d seen the same thing being done but instead of by Ruby the blm enthusiast, but by a MAGA mask wearing Trump supporter, you’d find it a bit suspicious? I bet you would have.

  8. Jules says:

    Just in case anyone is reading the racist gullible fool’s blather

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    From your own WaPo article:

    “No one told observers they had to leave, and both an independent monitor and an investigator oversaw the vote count, according to state and county officials. ”

    Well, gee, we’ve got sworn affidavits that say everyone was forced to leave before the Dominion 4 went back in to do their secret count. We’re expected to believe that every single person in the room all just simultaneously filed out and left, but no one told them to leave. They just organically left all on their own, all at the same time. Do you REALLY believe that, Jules? And if both an independent monitor and an investigator oversaw the count….where the F are they on the video? Are they vampires that do not appear on film? There’s footage of the whole count room, and….there’s nobody there but the Dominion 4 after everyone files out.

    And even your in-the-tank Gabe Sterling admits there was no monitor in the room for about an hour and a half:

    “Sterling said that there was an “82-minute” period where there was no election monitor in the room…..”

    Leftist friendly source:


    Jules, I’ll STFU and drop it if you can post video of these phantom monitors on tape, watching the Dominion 4 work. Post up the video of the monitors in the room after everyone was booted.

  10. Jules says:

    Actually can’t believe you are even still posting here after Charles had to delete your incredibly racist (and stupid) comments the other day.

  11. voter_worker says:

    The whole Dominion-related conspiracy theory is a pile of illogical BS and no stories about phantom suitcases and other layperson uninformed and frankly stupid visual observations/misinterpretations can overturn the complete illogic of the underlying premise that only one state and one candidate were the object of a vast conspiracy that would inevitably land the perps in prison for a lengthy stay. Alaska and Louisiana, all Dominion and all Trump. Majority of other counties using Dominion went for Trump. If Georgia had been rigged (and I will never stop asking WHY IS IT ONLY DOMINION IN GEORGIA?) why in God’s name did the conspirators not take out Loeffler and Perdue and Marjorie Taylor Greene when they had the chance? Now that I’ve contributed to an off-topic conversation, may I make a plea to Charles to delete off-topic comments? Almost every thread here that exceeds 5 comments has been highjacked by an off-comment post by our resident agent-provocateur.

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