ICUs in California, Arizona and Texas Prepare for Surge in COVID-19 Cases

On Friday, as the U.S. reported a record rise in COVID-19 cases for the third consecutive day, hospitals around the country prepared for a potential surge in patients that will need intensive care treatment.

On Friday, more than 45,000 new coronavirus cases were reported according to a New York Times database. States including Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas have seen COVID-19 cases spike this week, prompting fears around hospital capacity.

In southern California's San Bernardino County, for instance, officials were planning to turn the National Orange Show Events center into an emergency hospital, CBS Local reported. Over the past two weeks, intensive care unit admissions in California have spiked by 19 percent, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Thursday.

Similarly, cities in Texas are considering changing convention centers into hospitals as the state hit a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for a second week in a row. By mid-July, the Austin Convention Center could become one such facility, with the capacity to treat critical care patients, according to emails sent to a member of the state's disaster volunteer force seen by The Texas Tribune. Harris County may also use a stadium as a hospital the outlet reported.

The deliberations came as Texas Medical Center system reached 100 percent ICU capacity on Thursday.

According to Reuters, the medical complex had set up a "war room" which could take an additional 66 percent of ICU patients. It also planned to reassign staff, postpone elective procedures, move bed closer together, and repurpose regular hospital beds for emergency patients. If current trends continue, capacity will be reached in just over a week, by July 6, according to Reuters.

However, Dr. Faisal Masud, ICU chief at Houston Methodist where beds were almost all taken on Thursday, told Reuters his team had learned from dealing with COVID-19 patients in the past.

Approaches such as using experimental convalescent plasma treatments, the drug remdesivir, and placing patients on their fronts to help with blood oxygenation, "is allowing us to manage a lot more patients on acute care floors then we were able to do in March and April," he said.

ICU units in Arizona have also been operating at "max capacity" in recent days, Dr. Suresh Uppalapu, an intensive care unit physician at Phoenix's Banner University Medical Center. According to the latest Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) data, 88 percent of ICU beds were in use on Thursday.

Dr. Cara Christ, DHS director, told Newsweek on Friday that the body's website doesn't include beds included in the surge capacity.

And in response to an uptick of cases in Florida's hard-hit Miami-Dade county, officials have asked hospital to report information including their numbers of COVID-19 patients, ICU use, and ventilator stock twice instead of once a day, The Miami Herald reported.

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. is the country with the most confirmed cases at over 2.4 million of a total 9.8 million. It is followed by Brazil with 1.2 million, Russia with over 600,000 and India, which passed 500,000 cases on Saturday.