REPLAY: Here’s what happened in today’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 briefing

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — During today’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 briefing, Mayor Ginger Nelson gave her reaction to the state response to coronavirus. She said the city is following Governor Greg Abbott’s orders to reopen the city.

Mayor Nelson also said the Amarillo City Council has an open dialog with the Governor Abbott’s Office. With this open dialog, the council is sending a list requesting extra supplies and extra hands to fight the pandemic locally.

“We are asking the governor to send us extra help and extra supplies here to the city so that we can work on those hot spots and get a better control on our numbers,” said Mayor Nelson.

Mayor Nelson and city health experts are asking everyone to stay in as much as possible, and if you must go out, to wear a mask.

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Hospital Ventilator Update

As of the City of Amarillo’s COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday morning, there are a combined 75 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at BSA and Northwest Texas Health System.

More than 55 of those COVID-19 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Looking deeper into the numbers for NWTHS, they have 48 positive cases, the most they have had yet, but it is the 28 ventilators in use that is concerning doctors.

“That’s up from 22 yesterday. Now the reason that’s important is it has been published that Northwest has about 40 ventilators available at any given time. However, out of those 40, we typically have eight or nine that are strategically parked around the hospital where emergencies could arise. So that gives us only three or four ventilators readily available to take care of COVID-19 patients, without having to rob from those strategic spots in the hospital,” said Dr. Brian Weis, Chief Medical Officer for Northwest.

As for BSA, they have 27 total positive cases in the hospital, and half of those are in intensive care.

“Of those requiring ICU-level care, about 75% of those are on the ventilator,” said Dr. Mike Lamanteer, BSA’s Chief Medical Officer. “We currently have 19 total patients on the ventilator when you look at both COVID and non-COVID categories and that’s about 60% of our ventilator capacity. That’s those devices that we look at as traditional ventilators.”

Dr. Lamanteer also said 60% of traditional ventilators are actually only 25% of their total number if you include anesthesia machines that can be converted if there’s an emergency.

As part of the city’s surge plan, alternate care sites are being prepared in case of overflow right now. Froy Garza, the Interim Medical Center Director with the VA hospital, did confirm that they are preparing their fourth mission to serve as a potential alternate care site.

Hospital PPE Update

Healthcare workers at Northwest and BSA are reusing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Northwest’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis, said they are reusing sterilized N-95 masks and that gowns have become an issue. He said they are now having to sterilize and reuse gowns.

BSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Lamanteer, said they are fairly good on PPE and that they also are reusing sterilized N-95 masks.

The city is finalizing a list of needs for the governor’s office. On the list is more PPE, supplies for more hospital in-house testing, and staff.

COVID-19 in Amarillo Nursing Homes?

The City of Amarillo’s Public Health Director, Casie Stoughton, said there are several cases in senior care facilities.

She said people in groups increases the risk of spread.

Stoughton said nursing homes have specific guidance to help both residents and employees.

COVID-19 at AFD or APD?

The city said there is one positive case in the Amarillo Fire Department.

Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said in addition to that one case, two others have been tested.

Officials said there are no cases in the Amarillo Police Department.

COVID-19’s Effect on Sales Tax Revenue

The business restrictions we have seen because of COVID-19 is going to be hitting the city’s budget.

According to City Manager Jared Miller, the city could see an $8 million to $12 million loss of sales tax revenue and loss of Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Miller and Mayor Nelson said they have been working on a plan to help with the loss of revenue. They said some projects have been postponed, and they have implemented a hiring freeze.

“We’ve done those saving through modifying our Capital Improvements Program, freezing all hiring, modifying operations, canceling operations and closing operations. For example, a lot of stuff in the parks area or in our streets area, so there have been a lot of projects we have postponed or canceled,” said Miller.

Miller also mentioned that there are no signs that a property tax increase will be needed to help make up the difference.

To watch a full replay of the briefing: see the video below:

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