COVID news in TMC

Renowned Houston children's hospital now admitting adult patients due to COVID-19

Texas Children's is making a major move to battle COVID-19. Courtesy photo

With Harris County's current confirmed COVID-19 cases at more than 23,000 according to the latest data from the county, a prominent children's hospital has initiated a crucial pivot to fight the aggressive growth of local infections.

The vaunted Texas Children's Hospital is now admitting adult patients, the hospital announced late Monday, June 22, as Houston's numbers rise and Texas Medical Center hospitals' ICU beds near capacity, according to some reports.

The hospital released a statement to the media which included the following:

Texas Children's Hospital, our employees, medical staff and leadership team continue to carefully monitor the ongoing active transmission and increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the greater Houston area and across the State. We are committed to doing our part to assist the city as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. Specifically, Texas Children's is committed to providing additional capacity through ICU and acute care beds across our hospital campuses to take on both pediatric and adult patients.

We know COVID-19 has not gone away. We implore you to take responsible actions – practice appropriate social distancing, wear a mask or face covering anytime you leave your home, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face.

A representative for the hospital confirms to CultureMap that adults have already been admitted and will be situated in a different section of the hospital.

The move comes after Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed concern in regards to virus-related hospitalizations. "We are moving very fast in the wrong direction," said Turner. During a briefing on Monday, June 22, Turner reported 1,789 new COVID-19 cases, adding to Houston's total of 14,322. Monday's total is the most the city has reported in one day so far.

Meanwhile, as CultureMap reported, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says if the spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue, the city of Houston could become the worst-impacted city in the U.S.

"We are potentially facing a very serious public health threat," says Hotez.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

UH has found a way to instantly zap COVID-10. Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

While the world rushes to find a COVID-19 vaccine, scientists from the University of Houston have found a way to trap and kill the virus — instantly.

The team has designed a "catch and kill" air filter that can nullify the virus responsible for COVID-19. Researchers reported that tests at the Galveston National Laboratory found 99.8 percent of the novel SARS-CoV-2 — which causes COVID-19 — was killed in a single pass through the filter.

Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, collaborated with Monzer Hourani, CEO of Medistar, a Houston-based medical real estate development firm, plus other researchers to design the filter, which is described in a paper published in Materials Today Physics.

Researchers were aware the virus can remain in the air for about three hours, which required a filter that could quickly remove it. The added pressure of businesses reopening created an urgency in controlling the spread of the virus in air conditioned spaces, according to UH.

Meanwhile, to scorch the virus — which can't survive above around 158 degrees Fahrenheit — researchers instilled a heated filter. By blasting the temperature to around 392 F, they were able to kill the virus almost instantly.

The filter also killed 99.9 percent of the anthrax spores, according to researchers.

A prototype was built by a local workshop and first tested at Ren's lab for the relationship between voltage/current and temperature; it then went to the Galveston lab to be tested for its ability to kill the virus. Ren says it satisfies the requirements for conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

"This filter could be useful in airports and in airplanes, in office buildings, schools and cruise ships to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Ren, MD Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at UH and co-corresponding author for the paper, in a statement. "Its ability to help control the spread of the virus could be very useful for society."

Medistar executives are also proposing a desk-top model, capable of purifying the air in an office worker's immediate surroundings, Ren added.

Developers have called for a phased roll-out of the device, with a priority on "high-priority venues, where essential workers are at elevated risk of exposure — particularly schools, hospitals and health care facilities, as well as public transit environs such as airplanes."

The hope, developers add, is that the filter will protect frontline workers in essential industries and allow nonessential workers to return to public work spaces.

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