Jun 29, 2020 - Health

Texas Medical Center removes ICU data as coronavirus cases spike

 Words reading 'Heroes Work Here' are pictured outside Texas Children's Hospital amid the coronavirus outbreak on June 24, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
Baylor St. St Luke's Medical Center, located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, on June 24. Photo: Zeng Jingning/China News Service via Getty Images

The Texas Medical Center stopped publishing information on intensive care unit capacities, after an earlier update showed its hospitals reaching 100% base capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle first reported on Sunday.

Why it matters: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this week paused plans to reopen the economy and suspended elective surgeries in several areas, including Houston as COVID-19 cases surge. The Houston-based TMC states on its website that its hospital system in Houston represents the "largest medical city in the world."

Driving the news: The TMC, comprising several hospitals and a health care research institution, reported last Thursday that all regular ICU beds were in use, KHOU 11 notes.

  • The Chronicle reported that the data deletion occurred after a conversation between Abbott and hospital executives "in which the governor expressed displeasure with negative headlines about ICU capacity" — a claim the governor's office denied.

What they're saying: "The governor’s office believes all hospitals should be reporting accurate data to the state and to the public as often as possible," a spokesperson for Abbott told the Chronicle. "We demanded more information to share, not less."

  • A TMC spokesperson told NBC News that officials were preparing to publish new data. "After the events of this week, everyone realized the capacity question was complicated and misunderstood," the spokesperson said. "So new slides are being made that better explain. That’s all it is."

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