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A Texas hospital overwhelmed by the coronavirus may send some patients home to die

Doctors at a Texas hospital along the US-Mexico border may decide to send coronavirus patients "home to die by their loved ones" due to limited resources, officials say. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.

Posted: Jul 26, 2020 4:40 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2020 4:40 PM

Doctors at a Texas hospital along the US-Mexico border may decide to send coronavirus patients "home to die by their loved ones" due to limited resources, officials say.

Government and health officials in Starr County announced this week they are creating committees to review patients' cases at the Starr County Memorial Hospital in Rio Grande City.

At least 50% of the patients admitted in the hospital's emergency room have tested positive for Covid-19, Dr. Jose Vasquez, the county's health authority, said in a news conference earlier this week.

"The situation is desperate," he said.

This rural South Texas county began seeing an increase in positive cases about a month ago, Vasquez said, and the hospital admitted its first Covid-19 patient at that time.

The hospital quickly filled the eight beds in its Covid-19 unit, so it expanded to 17 and then 29 beds, Vasquez said. About 33 medical workers, including medical practitioners and lab technicians, were deployed by the state to assist the hospital.

"Unfortunately, Starr County Memorial Hospital has limited resources and our doctors are going to have to decide who receives treatment, and who is sent home to die by their loved ones," Starr County Judge Eloy Vera wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. "This is what we did not want our community to experience."

Vasquez said it was a difficult decision to start reviewing the cases but with limited resources, officials have to consider who has a *the best chance* of survival.

"Those patients who most certainly don't have any hope of improving, we believe they are better taken care of within their own family in the love of their own home rather than thousands of miles away, dying in a hospital room alone," Vasquez said.

At least 40 new coronavirus cases were reported on Thursday in Starr County, bringing the county's total to 1,701. There have been 17 deaths linked to the virus and 32 others are pending state confirmation, local health officials said.

"When we talk about people who have died in our community, we are talking about uncles, cousins, siblings, a coworker, a relative," Vasquez said. "We are talking about people who had a close relationship with any of us one way or another."

An estimated 64,000 people live in Starr County, according to data by the US Census Bureau.

The pandemic surge has been particularly hard along the Texas-Mexico border. Starr County's neighbor, Hidalgo County, has turned into one of the state's main coronavirus hotspots.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Sunday that five US Navy teams were being deploying to South Texas to help combat the spread of the virus.

A new shelter-at-home order began Friday in Starr County, nearly three months after Gov. Abbott ended the state's stay-at-home order, allowing businesses to reopen at limited capacity. Texas was one of the first states to reopen its economy.

The county's order is set to remain in place until August 10 and requires residents to shelter at home, including those who live in hotels, motels and shared rentals.

A mandatory curfew was also issued from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. for anyone over 18 years and from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for residents 17 years and under unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

"Our backs are against the wall," Judge Vera, who signed the order, said in a news conference. "We are literally in a life and death situation."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 137536

Reported Deaths: 2421
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34657994
Ramsey14342362
Dakota10027138
Anoka9039151
Washington608972
Stearns599144
Scott349634
Olmsted331430
St. Louis307970
Wright260915
Clay236243
Nobles230916
Blue Earth20667
Carver18477
Kandiyohi17535
Sherburne173322
Rice167410
Mower153517
Winona127819
Chisago10832
Crow Wing106222
Lyon9966
Benton9769
Waseca9379
Beltrami9147
Otter Tail9017
Todd8656
Steele7823
Morrison77610
Itasca76317
Nicollet74718
Douglas7283
Polk7244
Freeborn6914
Le Sueur6456
Goodhue62511
Martin61518
McLeod6104
Becker5884
Watonwan5794
Isanti5715
Pine5540
Chippewa4663
Carlton4622
Mille Lacs42715
Hubbard4103
Dodge4040
Wabasha3970
Cass3905
Pipestone35917
Rock3484
Meeker3453
Brown3333
Yellow Medicine2926
Roseau2900
Murray2893
Cottonwood2860
Redwood28411
Fillmore2640
Sibley2603
Renville25812
Wadena2553
Faribault2390
Kanabec22510
Jackson2171
Houston2121
Swift2091
Pennington2071
Unassigned19353
Lincoln1890
Stevens1871
Aitkin1862
Koochiching1725
Pope1650
Lac qui Parle1443
Big Stone1431
Wilkin1404
Marshall1311
Lake1260
Norman1210
Mahnomen1172
Clearwater1140
Grant994
Red Lake812
Traverse580
Kittson490
Lake of the Woods441
Cook170

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117876

Reported Deaths: 1666
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19173289
Woodbury728597
Johnson590630
Black Hawk5727101
Linn5692132
Dubuque529558
Scott466241
Story403918
Dallas348544
Pottawattamie326744
Sioux247017
Buena Vista226812
Marshall204436
Webster189115
Plymouth167831
Wapello154162
Clinton150227
Muscatine148758
Des Moines140910
Cerro Gordo140227
Crawford136314
Warren12737
Carroll116813
Jasper112334
Henry10745
Marion103211
Lee95910
Tama95837
Delaware80213
Dickinson7529
Wright7341
Boone7269
Mahaska70924
Bremer6879
Harrison67315
Washington66711
Jackson6463
Benton5982
Lyon5568
Clay5414
Louisa52515
Winnebago50219
Hardin4837
Winneshiek4839
Hamilton4784
Cedar4777
Kossuth4770
Buchanan4625
Poweshiek46211
Jones4544
Clayton4503
Floyd44011
Emmet43520
Iowa4189
Page4130
Guthrie40715
Cherokee4062
Mills4053
Sac4034
Cass4023
Butler3883
Fayette3844
Franklin38218
Shelby3812
Allamakee3809
Chickasaw3641
Madison3643
Clarke3573
Humboldt3383
Hancock3314
Grundy3186
Palo Alto3162
Calhoun3124
Osceola2890
Mitchell2831
Howard2749
Monroe26211
Union2524
Taylor2482
Jefferson2451
Monona2452
Appanoose2333
Pocahontas2322
Fremont2091
Lucas2066
Ida1962
Greene1880
Van Buren1812
Montgomery1807
Davis1794
Adair1771
Keokuk1641
Decatur1530
Audubon1511
Worth1460
Wayne1323
Ringgold922
Adams830
Unassigned150
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