FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Hospitals are assuring Tarrant County leaders they’re comfortable with the availability of beds and space to handle the current number of COVID-19 patients.

“They’re not screaming that the sky’s falling,” said County Judge Glen Whitley.

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That repeated assurance Tuesday, Dec. 8 came even as the top public health official raised concerns again about available intensive care unit beds.

Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said he wasn’t sure why hospitals would have a different assessment of the situation, other than that they may better prepared than during the spring and summer.

“Overall I think the picture does remain pretty grim,” he said.

Taneja said there were 18 available ICU beds in Tarrant County Tuesday, and 79 across the region.

He suggested a major accident or natural disaster in North Texas could quickly take up remaining space.

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Much of Taneja’s situational briefing to county commissioners focused on the first vaccine doses, which could be approved and available for distribution to health care professionals by next week.

Judge Whitley drafted a letter, signed by the other four commissioners, urging Governor Greg Abbott to include teachers among the first recipients of the vaccine.

“Keeping educators healthy keeps our kids in school and our economy going,” the letter reads in part.

The push follows a similar request from Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner, that he sent to state officials last week.

Judge Whitley said Tuesday he didn’t have feedback yet from other superintendents in the area, but expected to bring it up with them during a scheduled call Wednesday, Dec. 9.

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