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Study: Beaumont needs 1,000 more hospital beds if COVID-19 spread continues for 6 months

The study says parts of Texas are dangerously low on availability of beds to deal with the growing pandemic.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The number of positive cases in Texas has risen to over 3,000 and 41 people have died. 

12News looked into Southeast Texas hospitals' ability to keep up with new cases.

A recent study done by Harvard University, Propublica and The New York Times says parts of Texas are dangerously low on availability of beds to deal with the growing pandemic. 

They aren't alone in their concerns. 

John Henderson is the President and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH). 

"Some of the projections raise concerns when it comes to rural Texas," Henderson said. 

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The non-profit organization believes rural healthcare systems do not have enough beds or ventilators to care for coronavirus patients when the transmission peaks. 

"I would say a healthy level of fear or caution for the next couple of weeks is warranted. I think after that it will start getting better and ease the load but we are in a crisis," Henderson said. 

Our rural areas include Jasper, Newton, Chambers, Hardin and Tyler counties. 

What about urban counties? They aren't without problems. 

Orange County doesn't have its own hospital.  

"The east side of the county is a long way from life-saving care and treatment," Henderson said. 

Without a hospital, most patients will be forced to seek care in Jefferson County. 

Are there enough beds to support the sick from two counties? 

12News has been pressing CHRISTUS and Baptist to get exact numbers of hospital beds available and the number of ventilators. 

Both have said they aren't going to release that information to the public. 

The rural hospitals have been more forthcoming. There are a total of 157 rural Texas hospitals that partner with TORCH.

MORE | See capacity for Texas cities

"I know that our rural hospitals have been very forthcoming with bed count and ventilator count. We know that there are 7,500 licensed hospital beds in rural Texas and we show that 6,000 are currently available," Henderson said. 

The study done by Harvard, Propublica and The New York Times in March predicts Beaumont would need more than 1,000 beds if the spread continues for 6 months.

The study says in part, "intensive care units would be especially overwhelmed and require additional capacity."

A spokesperson for CHRISTUS sent this statement to 12News: 

"CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System has emergency preparedness plans in place for all of our facilities, and we stand ready to meet the health care needs of our community by providing high quality, compassionate care. Each day we monitor and evaluate our capacity and requirements across all of our hospitals, including our Emergency Departments, ICUs, laboratories, imaging centers and other treatment and testing areas.

We are currently working very closely with local emergency management leaders in order to adapt and fully execute agreed upon surge plans, should the need arise in the event that we fully maximize capacity at all of our CHRISTUS Southeast Texas facilities."

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