Dallas County health leaders fear possible hospital bed shortage during COVID-19 pandemic

There may not be enough hospital beds in North Texas to handle the projected number of COVID-19 coronavirus patients.

County officials are trying to find options and sites for additional hospital bed capacity and how much it would cost.

At Dallas County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning, Dr. Phillip Huang with Dallas County Health and Human Services reported there are a little over 4,000 hospital beds across DFW to handle patients.

Based on COVID-19 infection rate data from other countries like China, health officials say if no action is taken more than 75,000 people in the county would require hospitalization. That would leave us roughly 71,000 beds short.

But if shelter-in-place orders are followed correctly, local health officials say we could reduce the number of hospitalizations to less than 4,000.

“This is the time we need to be preparing for that now. We need to be getting as much personal protective equipment,” Dr. Huang said. “We need to be prepared for as much ventilator capacity. This is what we’re trying to prepare for.”

Governor Abbott announced Tuesday the state has ordered $80 million worth of supplies. By the end of this week, the state should be getting 100,000 masks a day. They hope to eventually have a million masks going to Texas hospitals each week.

Meanwhile, businesses are donating supplies to help.

Harbor Freight is donating its entire inventory of masks, gloves and face shields to hospitals across the country. Company reps say that’s about 45 million pairs of gloves, more than 100,000 masks and 100,000 face shields. The company says the supplies will go to hospitals in the communities their 1,035 stores serve.

“There’s so much need out there. We’re certainly not going to meet those demands,” said Harbor Freight President Allan Mutchnik. “And there are so many deserving hospitals that we can’t help. But for us, this is just about doing the best we can with what we’ve got and doing good.”

The company says in the first 48 hours of putting out a call for people to nominate hospitals in need, they got about 12,000 hospitals asking for help and 30,000 emails.