More than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages

Hospitals in Texas have reported an increased number of full intensive care units (ICUs) as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to ravage communities.

According to data released Monday, 42 Texas hospitals reported that their ICU beds were filled to capacity between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14.

The data is released by the federal government's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on a weekly basis and accounts for about 200 Texas hospitals that have more than four ICU patients or four staffed ICU beds. Other hospitals with smaller ICU departments also reported data to HHS.

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While the number of Texas hospitals with full capacity intensive care units has declined since peaking in August, the figures are still higher than those seen during the pandemic's deadly winter surge. 

The Texas Tribune reported that some hospitals have never been more short-staffed, and doctors fear that they will soon have to make devastating decisions about who they can care for in an effort to save as many lives as possible. 

HHS, however, noted on its website that people "should not be discouraged from seeking hospital care based on their interpretation of the data." 

The majority of COVID-19 patients in the Texas hospitals and ICU beds are unvaccinated, according to the Tribune. 

In Texas, 53 percent of people are vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. The state also reported a daily COVID-19 new case count of 5,862 on Monday. 

Last week, Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottDOJ sues over Texas's redistricting plan Sunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Hillicon Valley —TSA to strengthen rail sector cybersecurity MORE (R) issued an executive order banning coronavirus vaccine mandates by any “entity in Texas.” 

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“In yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates,” Abbott's order said.

Despite this order, some large Texas-based companies have said they would defy Abbott's order and require their employees to get vaccinated. Specifically, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are both headquartered in Texas, have said they, as federal contractors, would comply with the Biden administration's vaccine mandate. 

White House chief medical adviser Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOfficials seek to reassure public over omicron fears The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Omicron tests vaccines; Bob Dole dies at 98 Murthy says travel restrictions are 'temporary measures' MORE has called Abbott's executive order banning vaccine mandates "unfortunate," adding that "we know how effective vaccines are in preventing illness not only for the individual but for diminishing the dynamics of the infection in society."