COVID-19 hospitalizations in Texas have more than doubled in two weeks, and some city leaders warn health facilities could soon be overwhelmed. The Associated Press visited Houston's United Memorial Medical Center to see the effect of the surge. (July 8)
JOSEPH VARON: You don't [INAUDIBLE]?
JOHN MONE: As coronavirus numbers surge in Houston, the battle to save lives is increasingly uphill.
JOSEPH VARON: OK. I'm pulling this [INAUDIBLE] electrical activity [INAUDIBLE].
JOHN MONE: Doctors and nurses at United Memorial Medical Center tried to save a 66-year-old widow.
JOSEPH VARON: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2. Come on. Good.
JOHN MONE: Her oxygen levels falling rapidly, her vital signs declining.
JOSEPH VARON: We completed compressions for over a minute and then let's see if we got a pulse. OK?
JOHN MONE: Before she fell unconscious, she told staff she may have contracted the deadly virus from the dozens of people who gathered for her husband's recent funeral, and expressed her regrets for having such a large gathering. Despite their best efforts to revive her, she died.
JOSEPH VARON: Thank you, everybody.
The other thing is that you need to understand is that, in coronavirus, one minute you're looking great and the next minute you know, you are gone.
JOHN MONE: The seriously ill continue to fill up intensive care beds in the nation's biggest cities, including San Antonio and Houston, where leaders worry hospitals could be overwhelmed within days. In all, Texas has recorded close to 2,700 deaths and more than 200,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
JOSEPH VARON: We have seen an exponential increase in the number of cases that we've had of COVID. The hospital has had to expand. I mean, we started first at 46 beds, then we went to 58. Now we're at 88 beds. And you know, and our-- even though it sounds like a lot of beds, it's not enough.
JOHN MONE: Life hangs in the balance inside the hospital's coronavirus unit. Just next door to where Dr. Joseph Varon, the Chief Medical Officer at UMMC, tried to save a life, is a patient he thinks is on the mend.
LATANYA ROBINSON: It is horrifying because you just-- you can't get your breath.
JOHN MONE: 51-year-old LaTanya Robinson, a nurse, thinks she caught the disease from her own son.
LATANYA ROBINSON: Some people have light symptoms; some people don't have symptoms. But those who do get the symptoms, it's like death.
JOHN MONE: Another patient, Celeste Glover, says she took every precaution to avoid getting sick.
CELESTE GLOVER: I didn't even go to the grocery store because I have underlying health conditions. My son would go to the grocery store. Did everything in my power and here I am.
JOHN MONE: The hospital allowed the Associated Press inside access.
JOSEPH VARON: And we are trying to tell people, you know, keep your safe distance. Use your mask. Wash your hands. They don't do it. They think this is a hoax. Anybody that thinks that this is a hoax needs to come and spend a day with me here.
JOHN MONE: To show how the pandemic is stretching resources, resilience--
JOSEPH VARON: No, she's not. She is gone.
JOHN MONE: --and emotions.
JOSEPH VARON: And I am very sorry for your loss.
JOHN MONE: Delivering heartbreaking news to coronavirus patients' families has been a constant for Dr. Varon.
JOSEPH VARON: It's the one thing that you don't want to do when you're a doctor, but you've got to do it. I mean, somebody has to do it.
JOHN MONE: He's worked more than 100 days straight without rest. John Mone, Associated Press, Houston.