Gov. Greg Abbott bans elective surgeries in four of Texas' biggest counties to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients
Greg Abbott speaks to Fox News on Feb. 1, 2015. (screen grab)

For a second time since the start of the pandemic, Abbott bans elective surgeries to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients. But this time the hold on the nonessential procedures is only in effect for Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday morning he is once again putting a stop to elective surgeries to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients — but this time the prohibition only applies to Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties, four areas where the number of patients hospitalized with virus is quickly progressing.

Just Tuesday, Abbott stressed that hospital capacity in Texas was “abundant.”

Statewide, the number of hospitalizations has reached record highs for a full two weeks, soaring to 4,739 on Thursday morning and tripling since Memorial Day.

In hard-hit regions, some hospitals have begun moving coronavirus patients from crowded ICUs to other facilities and local leaders have warned that hospitals could get overwhelmed if the number of infections keeps climbing. In the greater Houston area, the Texas Medical Center warns that the intensive care units are 30 beds away from filling up to their normal capacity. Hospitals and care facilities will then employ their surge plans.

Some counties could be added to the list if hospitalizations surge in other areas of Texas.

Abbott had previously directed hospitals paused elective procedures, as the outbreak started in March. By late April he lifted the ban on nonessential surgeries and procedures, as long as 15% of beds were reserved for coronavirus patients.