It's been 10 days since Joel Valdez was shot outside of a Houston grocery store, and he still hasn't been able to undergo surgery, due to his hospital being overcrowded with COVID-19 patients.
Valdez was sitting inside his car on Aug. 6 when he was shot six times, an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a domestic dispute. He was brought to Ben Taub Hospital, where as of Monday morning the intensive care unit was at 103 percent capacity, with 33 percent of the beds filled with COVID-19 patients, The Washington Post reports.
Valdez was shot three times in his left shoulder and needs surgery, but the hospital is so overwhelmed by COVID-19 that he's still waiting. "Everybody is really surprised I'm still in this bed a week later," he told Fox 26 over the weekend.
It's not just Ben Taub Hospital that's packed — Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston is at 94 percent capacity in the intensive care unit, with 54 percent of those patients hospitalized with COVID-19. In Texas, the seven-day average of new daily hospitalizations was 11,993 as of Monday.
Because its hospitals are filled with so many COVID-19 patients, Harris Health System doctors have to look at each patient daily to assess who is most in need of surgery, spokesperson Amanda Callaway told the Post. "Due to strained resources, surgical patients are being prioritized based on several factors, which unfortunately may result in a delay of non-emergent surgical procedures," she added.
With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading across the United States and millions of people still not vaccinated, hospitals in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and other states are reporting bed shortages. Valdez told Fox 26 it's "a little frustrating" that he has "broken bones and bullets in me" but doctors don't see getting him into surgery as an urgent matter. He advises his fellow Houston residents to "do your best to maintain your health and not end up in a situation that puts you in the hospital right now."