Fort Worth Hospital To Set Up Temporary Morgue As ‘Precautionary Measure'

JPS Hospital in Fort Worth releasing numbers daily on number of COVID-19 patients treated

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NBC 5 News

Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Fort Worth hospital says it has decided to set up a "temporary external morgue" outside its facility but stressed it is not needed now.

"With shelter-in-place orders in place in Tarrant County, local mortuary resources may remain at capacity longer than anticipated," the hospital said in a statement. "As a precautionary measure at our hospital in Fort Worth, we have made preparations to safeguard our community's loved ones who have passed in a temporary external morgue."

The statement said the morgue will be used only if needed.

A projection from the University of Washington predicts Texas will see 2,025 deaths and peak on April 20. The estimate is down considerably from just a week ago, an encouraging sign that social distancing is working.

Meanwhile, Tarrant County’s public hospital, John Peter Smith, announced it is treating 46 patients for positive or suspected coronavirus and that one patient has died.

JPS began releasing daily numbers so the public can be better informed about the spread of the disease. So far, other hospitals have declined to release such specifics.

JPS said 10 patients at its main campus had tested positive and 36 were under observation with possible symptoms. In all, 44 patients have tested positive so far, 284 negative, and 85 tests are pending.

“There’s comfort in knowing the facts, and knowing what our teams are dealing with each day,” said JPS’s top executive, Robert Earley, in a statement.

Texas Health Resources, which operates Harris Methodist Hospital and several others in Tarrant County, has no plans to release numbers of coronavirus patients.

“It’s not information we would typically share (publicly),” Texas Health spokesman Steve O’Brien said.

He said the hospital system does provide numbers to medical authorities like the Regional Trauma Advisory Council to coordinate resources.

In Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson has ordered hospitals to report daily bed counts. His office then releases the aggregate numbers publicly so people can better understand the status of the outbreak.

The latest information released Sunday showed 2,571 beds occupied in Dallas out of 5,236. Of 778 critical care beds, 476 were occupied.

In Tarrant County, the health department is releasing similar information on its website.

On Monday, it announced two more deaths in Tarrant County, bringing the total to 13.

The Tarrant County health department has released less detailed information than other counties in North Texas. Other counties typically release genders and age ranges for people who have tested positives.

Tarrant County health director Dr. Vinny Taneja has said he wants to avoid releasing too much information to protect patient privacy.

JPS is releasing its information daily at 10 a.m. on a telephone recording. It’s available by calling 817-702-9500.

“The recording may not answer every question you have, but I hope you see it as a big step to keep us all informed,” Earley said.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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