(Reuters) – Texas is fully prepared to meet hospital needs during the coronavirus pandemic and does not expect the kind of capacity problems facing New York, Governor Greg Abbott said on Friday.
Texas has nearly 20,000 hospital beds available after a 142% increase in capacity to treat the virus, and at least 8,741 ventilators, Abbott told a news conference.
“We are fully prepared for the hospital needs of Texans,” Abbott said. “Our capacity should prevent us from facing the type of situation that New York is having to deal with today.”
New York state has recorded more than 100,000 cases of the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus and nearly 3,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
Texas has reported 5,478 cases and 91 deaths with 827 people hospitalized after 55,000 state residents were tested, Abbott said.
“Texas should have the capability to provide ventilators as need arises,” the governor said.
Because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, those with severe cases often require ventilators to help them breathe.
Until this week, Texas was among the last states not to have issued statewide orders requiring residents to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.
Facing pressure to follow such moves by neighboring New Mexico and Louisiana, Abbott asked all Texans except essential workers to remain in their homes from Thursday, apart for essential trips.
He declined to call his request a “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” order, a term shunned by some conservatives who see it as an infringement on civil liberties or an overreaction that could damage the economy.
(Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Sandra Maler, Bill Berkrot and Daniel Wallis)