Man Shot 6 Times Waits 1 Week For Surgery at Hospital Overwhelmed by COVID

A Texas man who was shot six times is still waiting for surgery in a Houston hospital about a week after the shooting as the facility struggles due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Joel Valdez is waiting for surgery at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Texas and spoke to Fox 26 about the situation, advising people to do their best to keep healthy and not end up in the hospital right now.

Ben Taub Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is operating at 98 percent capacity, according to a spokesperson for the Harris Health System, while 33 percent of those patients have conditions related to COVID-19.

Valdez, who is a local business owner and father, spoke to Houston's Fox 26 from his hospital bed on Friday.

He was shot by a stranger last Saturday morning while leaving a Kroger on the 9100 block of the city's W. Sam Houston Parkway.

Police have arrested a suspect and charged him with shooting Valdez earlier this week.

"Having broken bones and bullets in me for over a week now, it's a little frustrating," Valdez said.

"I got shot in the neck right here, but I got hit three times in my left shoulder. That's what is broken and what I'm awaiting surgery for," he said.

"Do your best to maintain your health and not end up in a situation that puts you in the hospital right now," Valdez said.

Fox 26 reported that Amanda Callaway from the Harris Health System said: "In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases overwhelming the hospitals of Harris Health System, our medical experts review all surgical cases throughout the day to determine the acuity level and patient's overall condition.

"Due to strained resources, surgical patients are being prioritized based on several factors, which unfortunately may result in a delay of non-emergent surgical procedures. Harris Health and its medical partners are working diligently to provide the best possible care during these difficult times," she said.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has led to a surge in cases in Texas and 96 percent of ICU beds across the state are now full, according to a report from CBS News, while just 27 ICU beds were reportedly available in Houston on Friday.

More than 10,000 people were in Texas hospitals with COVID-19 this week, while 2,500 out-of-state medical staff have been deployed to assist in the fight against the virus.

The situation comes as Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, seeks to prevent local governments and officials from introducing mask-wearing mandates. The Texas Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on Abbott's challenge to a mask mandate in Dallas County which took effect on Wednesday.

Newsweek has asked the Harris Health System for comment.

A Houston ICU Pictured in 2020
Dr. Joseph Varon (R) speaks to a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. A man who was shot in Houston last week is still waiting for surgery at Ben Taub Hospital amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Go Nakamura/Getty Images