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Despite a larger population, Texas deaths from coronavirus are 7 times lower than those in New York

COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals benefit from lessons New York doctors shared

HOUSTON — COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals are not dying at the same magnitude as patients in New York.

Texas' 2019 population was almost 29 million. New York's was almost 19.5 million, yet 25,014 New Yorkers have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday, while 3,561 Texans have died from the virus.

There are several reasons that could explain this, but one is the timing of when the pandemic hit Texas compared to New York, and the ability of Texas doctors to learn lessons on how New York doctors handled coronavirus patients.

"We got a lot of help from our colleagues in New York and Washington. Both technical expertise and my understanding is that some of the nurses that are coming to Texas are actually coming from New York and, and the New England states," said Dr. David Persse, Houston Health Authority.

A New York Times article explains that doctors in Texas have been able to avoid using ventilators or breathing tubes because they know more now about how the virus affects patients and how to care for them.

That same article, as well as a Washington Post article, mention how the antiviral drug remdesivir has performed well in more clinical trials, and doctors in Texas are now relying on the allocated shipments from the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

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HHS has secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug for American hospitals through September. The 500,000 courses represent 100 percent of Gilead Science’s projected production for July (94,200 treatment courses), 90 percent of production in August (174,900 treatment courses), and 90 percent of production in September (232,800 treatment courses), in addition to an allocation for clinical trials. A treatment course of remdesivir is, on average, 6.25 vials.

Normally, HHS allocates product to state and territorial health departments based on COVID-19 hospital burden, and health departments allocate it to hospitals. 

The delivery of the purchased remdesivir will be streamlined, going directly to the hospital, per the state’s allocation decision, rather than going first to the state health departments for subsequent delivery to hospitals.

Shipments will likely occur every two weeks, per HHS. The final allocation of Gilead’s approximately 120,000 donated treatment courses was shipped on June 29.

A Houston Methodist spokesperson said they expect to get their next shipment any day now, but they do not know how many treatment courses they will get.

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Thursday, Methodist reported 690 COVID-19 patients across its seven-location hospital system. That number includes patients who now test negative, but are not recovered enough to go home.

Statewide, Texas Department of State Health Services reported a single-day record of 129 deaths, and 10,291 new cases. It was the third day in a row of more than 10,000 cases reported in a single day, and the fifth time in 11 days.

The state reported 10,457 COVID-19 patients currently in Texas hospitals.

Methodist's peak of coronavirus patients so far was 712 on July 12.

The statistic is a glimmer of hope that hospitalizations could be decreasing, but as public health officials have repeated, that number hinges on people staying home as much as possible, and, if they must leave the house, wearing a mask, and staying at least six feet away from others outside their household.