A look inside one of the Houston hospitals treating COVID-19 patients

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the fight to contain COVID-19 continues nationwide, we took an unprecedented look at what doctors and patients in Houston are dealing with when it comes to the virus.

A camera crew from the Associated Press got an inside look at United Memorial Medical Center and the reality of COVID-19 is sobering for doctors, patients and their families.

"We have to understand this is very, very deadly serious. Some people have light symptoms, some people don't have symptoms, but those who do get the symptoms, it is like death," a patient said.

Since the start of the pandemic, the hospital has increased the number of beds for coronavirus patients three times. Now, 117 beds are dedicated to COVID-19 treatment in three separate wings. Soon, doctors say the entire facility may be used.

"We have seen a lot of patients come in. We are playing musical chairs in rooms, moving one patient from one side to the other. It, it is a lot of work," UMMC Dr. Joseph Varon said.

Even people who tried to do everything right and keep themselves safe are winding up at the hospital.

"We wipe down our food deliveries, our groceries, I didn't even go to the grocery store because I have underlying health conditions. My son would go to the grocery store, (I) did everything in my power and here I am," a patient said.

Patients say the virus moves fast. Some add that they went from feeling tired and struggling to move to hardly being able to breathe.

"We have tried to tell people, keep your safe distance, use your mask, wash your hands. They don't do it. They think that this is a hoax. Anybody who thinks that this is a hoax needs to come and spend the day with me here," Varon said.

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