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Texas Hits New Coronavirus Record, as Hospitalizations Surge for 4th Straight Day

Texas hit a new coronavirus record yesterday, less than two months after lockdowns began to ease across the state under Governor Gregg Abbott’s multi-phase reopening plan.

According to Texas health authorities, 2,326 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Monday, marking the fourth day in a row the Lone Star State recorded a new high for coronavirus hospitalizations.

Overall, 89,108 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the pandemic began, including nearly 2,000 fatalities. Texas currently has a total of 51,365 staffed hospital beds, of which 14,525 are available. But just 1,626 ICU beds remain open across the state.

Harris County COVID-19 Hospitalizations Up 30%

Harris County’s coronavirus outbreak continues to lead the state, with 17,282 confirmed cases and 284 deaths as of this morning. According to ABC 13, the county has seen coronavirus hospitalizations jump 30% since the end of May.

“This is not gone from our community,” warned Dr. James McCarthy, Chief Physician Executive at Memorial Hermann. “The hospitalization rates are now as busy as they’ve ever been during this period, and we really need the general public to be managing the same way we are in the hospital.”

To reduce the potential for transmission, Dr. McCarthy urged Texans to wear masks, wash their hands frequently, maintain an appropriate social distance, and self-quarantine if they’re feeling ill.

Texas entered the first phase of Governor Abbott’s ambitious reopening plan on May 1st, when retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, malls, museums, and libraries were allowed to open at 25% capacity.  Most other businesses were permitted to resume operations at 50% capacity on June 3rd.

While bars and restaurants were able to go to 75% capacity over the weekend, several in Houston have already closed after employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Coronavirus Cases Surged as States Reopened Early

Texas is one of 23 states across the nation, mostly in the south and west, where coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have surged in recent weeks. Many of those states also ended lockdowns early and implemented similarly aggressive reopening plans.

Meanwhile, states that have been slower to reopen and that have mandated the wearing of masks and other precautions – including Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey – continue to see plummeting rates of new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

“A spike in new cases is unavoidable due to the early reopenings, which is combined with other developments like protests to create fertile ground for its ongoing transmission,” Yanzhong Huang, a public health researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations and director of the Center for Global Health Studies at Seton Hall University, told CNBC on Monday.

Many health experts have warned that rising infection rates could force some states to reinstitute their coronavirus shutdowns.

When asked about the numbers last Friday, Governor Abbott said he was “concerned, but not alarmed,” blaming the rising case count on increased testing, as well as hotspots at prisons and meat processing plants throughout the state. There Governor gave no indication that he was contemplating reversing – or even slowing – the reopening process.

“Our starting point right now is much better than most states,” he said, according to the Texas Tribune. “The number of cases per million for Texas is less than half the average for the nation. The number of deaths per million, at least the national average, is five times that of which Texas has.”

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