AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Governor Gregg Abbott has issued an executive order suspending elective surgeries in four major Texas counties to preserve hospital bed space as COVID-19 cases surge in the state.

The order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties.

Under this order, Abbott directs all hospitals in the affected counties to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. 

Abbott can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state.

“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Abbott. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”

As of Wednesday, Texas had reported 125,921 cases, with 2,249 deaths and 72,898 estimated recoveries. Case counts in the affected counties were:

  • Bexar County – 7,467 cases;
  • Dallas County – 17,744 cases
  • Harris County – 24,421 cases;
  • Travis County – 6,596 cases.

Currently, the state is reporting 4,389 patients in hospitals due to COVID-19. The Department of State Health Services estimates there are 12,951 hospital beds available in the state and 1,320 ICU beds available.

The Texas Medical Association issued a statement praising Abbott’s order, calling it “an appropriate use of the governor’s authority” to ensure Texas hospitals retain the capacity to admit and treat all seriously ill patients.

“Combined with Governor Abbott’s announcement that the state will take no additional steps for now to reopen the economy, with his earlier decisions giving local officials more authority, and with his continued insistence that all Texans take commonsense safety precautions, this order gives Texas additional tools to respond to this pandemic,” the statement by TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, said.

In her statement, Fite also reminded Texans that they have a part to play in combating the sdpread of COVID-19.

“As I stated yesterday, all of us – physicians, hospital administrators, all Texans – need to share this simple message, over and over, with our patients, our friends, our family, the news media, and elected officials: Wash your hands often. Stay home if you can. Practice social distancing. And for your sake, for your neighbors’ sake, for my sake, and for your grandma’s sake, wear a mask, Texas.”