Originally published on The Week on 2020 07 09 by Peter Weber https://theweek.com/speedreads/924461/houston-starting-look-like-new-york-city-before-peak-covid19-crisis
Texas reported a record 98 confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 9,979 new cases, just shy of Tuesday’s record 10,028 cases. Austin is turning its convention center, more famous for hosting South by Southwest, into a field hospital. In Houston, hospitals took in 3,851 coronavirus patients on Tuesday, and a growing number of people are dying at home before the paramedics even arrive, ProPublica and NBC News reported Wednesday, citing Houston Fire Department data.
"The uptick in the number of people dying before they can even reach a hospital in Houston draws parallels to what happened in New York City in March and April," ProPublica and NBC News report. "These increases also echo those reported during outbreaks in Detroit and Boston, when the number of people dying at home jumped as coronavirus cases surged."
"In Houston, doctors who knew the situation in New York are saying that what’s happening there looks like what happened in New York in early April," New York Times science reporter Donald MacNeil said on The Daily podcast over the weekend. "Not as many dying yet, but with people on oxygen and on ventilators they may find themselves in the situation where they have to park refrigerated trucks behind hospitals to hold the bodies, as they did in New York."
"It’s certainly not as bad as it was in New York City," Dr. Hilary Fairbrother, a Houston emergency medicine doctor, told NBC News. "We are not at that point. That being said, everybody wants to prevent us getting to that point."
Houston has also benefited from New York’s experience, Dr. Diana Fide, a Houston emergency room doctor and president of the Texas Medical Association, told Politico. "We did learn a lot going through things in March and April. We learned so much from problems in Washington State and New York." Even with more knowledge and stockpiled ventilators and protective equipment, she added, burnout is a real risk
"The fear is that nobody really knows what the trajectory is," reports New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink from Houston Methodist Hospital, the city’s largest. "You can have models, but models only can do so much. It really, really depends on human behavior — whether they stay home more, whether they wear masks. And then there could just be mysteries that we don’t even understand about how this virus passes. And those numbers for now, they just keep rising."