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'Our biggest frustration is that people are not listening' | Houston hospital expands COVID-19 wing, shares thoughts on case surge

UMMC also admitted two of its own nurses, according to the chief medical officer.

HOUSTON — Two fewer nurses are on the floor taking care of patients at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.

They're being treated for COVID-19 themselves.

"Whether or not it was related to the care they gave to patients or they got it out in the community, I still cannot tell you," said chief medical officer Dr. Joseph Varon.

As Texas continues to set daily records for new cases, Varon told KHOU 11 UMMC added more beds to a wing dedicated solely to COVID-19 patients.

"I'm doing everything I can to take care of these very sick people, and then you see people out there without a mask, not having social distance, more gatherings all over the place," Varon said. "Our biggest frustration is that people are not listening."

The Texas Department of State Health Services tweeted a message from Commissioner John Hellerstedt late Thursday reminding Texans to be vigilant.

"Cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising at their fastest rate yet," Hellerstedt said.

He said we're in the midst of the state's biggest challenge since the pandemic began.

"ICU beds are getting a little bit harder to find for our patients who are needing them," said Kevin McFarlane, an RN and president of the Houston Emergency Nurses Association.

He said controlling the spread and hospital capacity go hand in hand.

"You can be spreading it when you don't even know you have it," McFarlane said. "And that's kind of the scariest thing about COVID-19."

He joined the chorus of healthcare professionals and others who continue to urge people to stay home, if possible.

"And if you're going to be in crowds of going to be with folks, you know, definitely wear a mask," McFarlane said.

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