Abilene ICU reaches capacity as city leaders try to curb latest COVID-19 surge

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Hospitals in Abilene are sounding the alarm, as there are no more ICU beds in the Key City.

“We are at capacity,” said Director for Public Health in Abilene and Taylor County Annette Lerma. “This morning they said they had two hospital beds, or two ICU beds available locally and those have been taken.”

The next closest bed is in Sweetwater.

“For us, that’s where it gets real,” said Lerma. “We don’t want to become the El Paso, where they’re setting up field hospitals and things like that.”

The problem could become a bigger issue for the city, because if COVID-19 hospitalizations retain 15% for seven days, it could mean more restrictions.

Mayor Anthony Williams called a meeting with city, university and school district leaders Wednesday to discuss what each group can do to mitigate the spread.

“This is a global pandemic and I don’t have all the answers,” said Mayor Williams. “I think when you look at it with a team paradigm, you come up with a better solution.”

While there was a clear reason for the meeting, when we asked for the solutions, we weren’t told specifics.

Let’s break down what we do know and what we’ve known for a while now:

  • Students at Abilene Christian University and McMurry University will be not be returning after Thanksgiving.
  • Hardin-Simmons University will only be allowing a percentage of students to return.

Wylie and Abilene ISDs have mentioned the possibility of limiting the amount of fans allowed at sporting events or cutting out fans all together.

No threshold number was given as to when those ideas would be put in place.

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce, who was also at the meeting, says while each business makes its own decisions, they are reinforcing the importance of wearing a mask.

Just under 9% of hospitalizations are from COVID-19 in Taylor County.

If it gets to 15 for seven consecutive days, under the Governor’s order, that will force the closure of bars and limit restaurant capacity.

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