ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Hendrick Health System says they are preparing for alternative treatment locations, including mobile tents and deploying a morgue trailer as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the Key City.
In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, Hendrick officials have introduced “COVID-19 Community Safety Levels,” which are accompanied by different recommendations to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Currently, Abilene and Taylor County are at Level 5: Critical, meaning “we have reached uncontrolled community transmission,” the news release states.
At level 6, local business reopening plans will be rolled back by the governor to previous restrictions, according to the news release.
The safety levels are based on consideration of the number of new cases, percent positivity rate, ICU capacity, Hendrick’s COVID-19 admissions in Abilene, and total deaths in Taylor County.
Safety levels will be updated daily.
According to the news release, there are currently 102 hospitalizations in Abilene, and 0 ICU beds available in any of the Hendrick hospitals, including two in Abilene and one in Brownwood.
Hendrick Health has requested resources from the State of Texas to help manage their load, including 93 additional healthcare providers. They have currently received 75 caregivers.
“Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases will continue to rise due to the uncontrolled community transmission. Therefore, Hendrick is evaluating and preparing for alternative treatment locations including the use of mobile treatment tents. These plans also include the deployment of the State’s Regional Advisory Council morgue trailer to accommodate the higher than normal death rate,” the news release states.
The full news release and additional precautionary recommendations read as follows:
“As COVID-19 active cases continue to climb in our community, Hendrick Health is introducing its COVID-19 Community Safety Levels. The “New Normal” of COVID-19 precautions, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene, serves as the baseline level, and five additional levels of precaution, up to Emergency, are included. The Emergency level indicates the State’s threshold for Trauma Service Area-D for COVID-19 hospitalizations. At this level, the Governor will roll back local business reopening plans to previous restrictions.
This report will also include the day’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Abilene and available ICU beds for all three Hendrick Health hospitals in Abilene and Brownwood.
At each level, Hendrick Health will provide recommendations for individuals and organizations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the vulnerable populations in our communities.
Hendrick Health considers several metrics in determining our community’s current safety level, including the number of new cases in our county, percent positivity rate, ICU capacity, Hendrick Health’s COVID-19 hospital admissions in Abilene, as well as total deaths in Taylor County.
Current COVID-19 Community Safety Level – Level 5: Critical
We have reached Level 5: Critical, which means that Abilene and Taylor County have reached uncontrolled community transmission. For the past five days, Hendrick testing site’s percent positivity rate has been greater than 20 percent and has steadily increased. Today, 102 COVID-19 positive patients are hospitalized in Abilene with no available ICU beds.
Hendrick Health has requested resources from the State to help manage caring for our community, including 93 additional healthcare providers. At this time, we have received 75 caregivers. Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases will continue to rise due to the uncontrolled community transmission. Therefore, Hendrick is evaluating and preparing for alternative treatment locations including the use of mobile treatment tents. These plans also include the deployment of the State’s Regional Advisory Council morgue trailer to accommodate the higher than normal death rate.
At Level 5: Critical, we are beginning to postpone some elective procedures to preserve capacity for other critically ill patients.
Level 5: Critical
Community Recommendations for Level 5: Critical At the Level 5: Critical, it is important to protect those who are most vulnerable to hospitalization from COVID-19. Those include individuals who are 65 and older, as well as individuals with pre-existing or underlying health conditions, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and many others outlined by the CDC. Six out of ten adults have a chronic disease that increases their risk for complications and severity with COVID-19, and would be considered vulnerable to hospitalizations.
To reduce community spread, our recommendations include: To reduce hospitalizations, our recommendations include:
- Stay home, except for essential activities. Essential activities do not include sporting events, concerts, community events, etc.
- Limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer. Avoid or cancel social indoor and outdoor gatherings larger than 10. The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with and spreading COVID-19.
- Wear a face mask covering your nose and mouth to protect yourself and others, as per Gov. Abbott’s executive order.
- Practice good hand hygiene and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
- Self-quarantine responsibly for 14 days if in close or prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, per CDC guidelines.
- For community, work or school-related activities, require all attendees to wear masks at all times.
- All businesses—mandate mask-wearing for all employees while at work.
- All businesses—mandate mask-wearing for all customers and follow occupancy restrictions to ensure the minimum standard health protocols are being met, as outlined in State guidelines.
- Support local businesses by purchasing gift cards, ordering takeout or delivery, and avoid shopping or visiting during peak hours.
- All vulnerable individuals (65+ or with pre-existing health conditions) should stay home when possible and limit contact if required to leave home.
- If you may be considered vulnerable for hospitalizations and you choose to attend events or social gatherings, follow precautions: wear a mask during the visit; visit outside at a safe distance, if possible; wash hands frequently; and practice physical distancing.
- If you are not considered vulnerable for hospitalization, limit contact with those that are at risk.
- If you choose to visit a vulnerable individual (65+ or with pre-existing health conditions), follow precautions: wear a mask during the visit; visit outside at a safe distance, if possible; wash hands before entering a home; and practice physical distancing.
- Limit holiday celebrations to only those within your household. Consider having a virtual celebration with extended family and friends.
- Be extra careful if visiting individuals in long-term care facilities.”
We are all socially obligated to hold each other accountable in order to keep our community safe and healthy. Without everyone taking this responsibility seriously, this virus will continue to spread uncontrollably throughout our community with hospitalizations and death rates continuing to rise.