Texas hospital forms panel to decide which severe COVID patients will be treated -- and which ones will be turned away
Overworked doctor sitting in his office (Shutterstock.com)

Starr County Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez says that Starr County Memorial Hospital in McAllen, Texas -- the county's only hospital -- has formed an "ethics committee" tasked with assessing the survival potential of coronavirus patients "and will send home those with low probabilities," LocalSYR reports.

“There is nowhere to put these patients. The whole state of Texas and neighboring states have no ICU beds to spare for us,” Vazquez said Tuesday afternoon during a video conference call.

“We are going to have these committees reviewing each case,” Vazquez said. “End-of-life decisions and hospice decisions and comfort-care situation for all those patients who most certainly do not have any hope of improving we believe they will be better taken care in the love of their own family and home rather than thousands of miles away dying alone.”

After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott began reopening the state on May 1, the county has had 1,573 cases and 16 deaths. Starr County Judge Eloy Vera says residents who continue to gather in groups for "weddings, quinceañeras, and pachanga parties" are responsible for the virus' continued spread.

“We are not gods or anybody to make a decision for who should live or who should die. However, when you have a mass-casualty situation there are guidelines that makes you work in a more efficient manner and to help save the maximum number of people,” said Vazquez, adding that he has never experienced such a desperate mass medical situation in his entire career.

Starr County Memorial Hospital has an eight-bed coronavirus unit that currently houses 28 patients with three on ventilators and life support, including one in the emergency room.