ABC News Corona Virus Health and Science

Houston hospitals transferring patients amid COVID rise: 'We're running out of ICU beds'

Some patients were sent to facilities more than 50 miles away.

The surge in coronavirus cases has gotten so bad in Houston that two of the city's hospitals have begun transporting patients to other cities in Texas.

Harris Health Systems, which runs Ben Taub and LBJ hospitals, over the last 24 hours has transferred 33 patients, both COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients, to facilities in Houston and in surrounding areas, and was in the process of transferring 15 more, according to spokesman Bryan McLeod.

Some of those locations include Texas Children's Hospital, which recently admitted adult COVID-19 patients, and UTMB's Galveston hospital, which is more than 50 miles outside Houston.

McLeod said Ben Taub's ICU was at 73% occupancy, while LBJ's ICU was at 96% occupancy as of Thursday morning. Half of those ICU patients were being treated for coronavirus, he said.

"We're running out of ICU beds," he told ABC News.

Harris County leads Texas in coronavirus cases -- 32,859 as of Thursday morning -- according to the Harris County Health Department. Last month, the county saw a jump in new daily cases, with a record 849 reported June 11. The county has recorded 384 deaths.

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott shut down state bars and urged people to take more precautions as the number if new COVID-19 cases increased throughout the state.

Texas reported more than 8,000 new cases, and 57 deaths, on Wednesday.

What to know about Coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: Coronavirus map