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Southeast Texas hospitals to close some COVID-19 units as hospitalizations decline

As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall, some local hospitals are doing away with their designated COVID-19 units.

BEAUMONT, Texas — There are positive signs that the community has a grip on the coronavirus. Some hospital units that were exclusively used for COVID-19 patients are preparing to close, and nurses that were brought in from across the state to help will soon go home.

Southeast Texas COVID-19 hospitalizations have been slowly declining. Hospitals in our area are prepared to transition their operations.

As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall, some local hospitals are doing away with their designated COVID-19 units.

In fact, the Mid Jefferson Extended Care Hospital will no longer be used as a backup facility for coronavirus cases. Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said he believes Southeast Texas is heading in the right direction.

"The numbers been moving down pretty good here for the last month and a half," Branick said.

There is some positive news Southeast Texans have been waiting to hear.

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Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are the lowest they've been since the end of August 2020.

Branick said he hasn't heard of any local hospitals dealing with an overflow of COVID-19 patients, and he's pleased the progress.

"The numbers on ICU bed usage and general hospital bed usage are looking good," Branick said.

With fewer COVID-19 patients, both the Medical Center of Southeast Texas and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth Hospital are doing away with their designated COVID-19 overflow units this week.

Both hospitals will move coronavirus patients who aren't in ICU care to isolated areas within each hospital.

"We remain poised and in a posture to be able to convert any of our units in the event of need for a surge, but at this time we are very encouraged to be able to relieve some of the pressure in our hospital system and return some of our units back to their original use," Angie Hebert said.

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Hebert with the Medical Center of Southeast Texas said due to COVID-19 hospitalization rates being low, it has given the hospital a chance to catch its breath and cater to more patients in need of extended care or various surgeries.

Dr. Gary Mennie said it's a relief to be at this point.

"Emotionally, what a high, right? That before this we were essentially a COVID hospital," Dr. Mennie said.

Christus Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth Hospital is also expressing optimism, saying in part:

"We are encouraged by these types of milestones. They show that, as a community, we are slowing the spread of this virus." That facility will be closing its COVID-only unit this Friday.

12News reached out to Baptist Hospital to see if they will take an action. We expect to learn more about their plans soon.

While Dr. Mennie is pleased with our recent numbers, he warns now is not the time to let your guard down.

RELATED: Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

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