Texas sets new record for hospitalizations as coronavirus cases increase statewide

Texas sets new record for hospitalizations as coronavirus cases increase statewide
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic challenger, Lupe Valdez, during their gubernatorial debate at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, Friday evening, Sept. 28, 2018. // LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 09/28/2018

The novel coronavirus pandemic is far from over. In the past few days, several states across the nation have seen an increase in cases. Following Memorial Day, cases increased nationally at a rapid rate, and as restrictions loosen and states reopen these numbers will continue to rise. Data released by the Texas Department of State and Health Services Wednesday shows that 2,153 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, The Texas Tribune reported. For three consecutive days, Texas has shown an increase in its number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus. Since Memorial Day, the state has seen an approximately 42%  increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the state is prepared for any increase in cases. “Every Texan who needs access to a hospital bed will have access to a hospital bed,” John Wittman, a spokesman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbot’s office, said Wednesday. Wittman told The Texas Tribunethat the state has 13,600 open hospital beds open and “testing has increased by 210 percent” since May 1.

With businesses open and daily interactions increasing, experts believe cases will continue to rise and the data will reflect that. "In terms of new infections, we are seeing a surge ... in part attributed to activities surrounding Memorial Day weekend, such as gatherings where protective behaviors may have been lax," said Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. According to Fischer, it takes about nine to 16 days to see an increase and, on average, an additional five to seven to see hospital data.

In addition to increased social activities and the state reopening, protests across the state are predicted to contribute to an increase in COVID-19 cases. “I’m concerned but not yet alarmed,” Abbott told Dallas television station KTVT Tuesday. “I look at Amarillo that was a hot spot zone a couple of weeks ago, where they had a lot of concerns. We had surge response teams that addressed it, and now their hospitalizations are going down.” He added that everything is “largely contained” and he hopes to avoid a spike following protests.

Former Texas public health official David Lakey said it’s no surprise numbers are going up given that people are no longer following “basic precautions” including wearing a mask. He said several factors contribute to an increase, including travel and protests.

According to data compiled by The New York Times, as of Wednesday, June 10, there have been more than 81,000 cases of coronavirus in Texas and at least 1,913 deaths as a result of COVID-19.

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