As previously reported by Local Profile, flu season began earlier this year, and North Texas hospitals have been working at max capacity over the past couple of months due to a spike in RSV pediatric cases. According to Fox 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth, the DFW Hospital Council said that nearly all hospital beds in the area are full and doctors are preparing for an even bigger spike coming in the next seven to ten days after Thanksgiving.
Stephen Love, president of the DFW Hospital Council, told Fox 4 News DFW that hospitals located within the 19 counties that make up Trauma Sevice Area E are running with 91% occupancy, while pediatrics occupancy is over 96%.
Hospitals in the area have also seen an increase in COVID-19 and flu cases. On Tuesday there were 259 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized, and in 24 hours, that number jumped to 306. According to the CDC’s respiratory illness activity map, Texas is one of the states with the highest levels of flu one month ahead of winter.
Doctors are concerned that a new spike could be on its way after people gathered with families this past Thanksgiving weekend, which is when the flu season usually starts. "Typically, we're used to the flu season really starting to pick up after Thanksgiving,” Dr. Nick Karr, founder and CEO of Citra Urgent Care, told Fox 4 News DFW. “And if you look, I mean our volumes again are what we would predict for late December."
Dr. Karr estimates this increase in hospitalized cases could be caused by people relaxing and disregarding the precautions that helped keep the number of cases low during the pandemic.
This surge in respiratory illnesses comes at the same time hospitals are struggling with staff shortages, which means that even if beds are available, there might not be enough doctors and nurses to take care of patients.
On November 14, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) sent a letter to President Biden and HHSS secretary Xavier Becerra asking them to declare an emergency declaration to help hospitals face the surge in respiratory illnesses.