Coronavirus: Texas Hospitalization Rates Reach Record Highs

Tony Cantu

AUSTIN, TX — Texas health officials reported a third straight day with a record number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus on Wednesday, with 2,153 hospitalizations recorded — a 42 percent spike since Memorial Day.

The latest figures updated on a Texas Department of State Health Services statistical dashboard reveal another grim milestone, with the respiratory illness count reaching 79,757 after 2,504 more diagnoses emerged over the past 24 hours. Moreover, the number of fatalities across Texas reached 1,885 — an increase of 32 from the previous day.

The new rate of hospitalizations trumps the past record set on Tuesday of 1,935. Health officials do note, however, that 52,449 patients have recovered from illness since acquiring the virus.

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While Gov. Greg Abbott attributes recent upticks to illness clusters emanating from meatpacking plants and prisons, many observers point to his reopening of the economy through a series of executive orders allowing a growing number of businesses to open in phases. At the governor's direction, Texas emerged as the first state to reopen its economy even as other states have yet to reignite their economies on the advice of health professionals.

Abbott also has relaxed rules tied to physical distancing and the wearing of fabric face coverings to help blunt the spread of illness. Early on, he deemed worship services and construction activity as "essential services" all but immune to illness-inhibiting safeguards, and made the use of face masks voluntary — warning local officials not to exert punitive measures on violators given his superseding order.

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Speaking to KCBD television station in Lubbock, Abbott indicated he was "concerned but not alarmed" at the Texas illness spikes. Despite his relaxed rules on mask wearing, he urged residents to wear the coverings while practicing good hygiene and adhere to physical distancing. "People need to realize COVID-19 hasn't suddently left Texas," he told the news sation. "It still exists."

Meanwhile, Texas is emerging as a national focal point cautioning against early economic jump start. In his regular updates on illness trends to New York residents, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken to using Texas as a cautionary tale as he prepares to reignite his state's economy given flattening rates of illness.

National media outlets that include CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek and others are taking note of the Texas heightened illness trends. The latter reported the state recorded 71,330 cases of the coronavirus between March 1-June 4. Texas recorded spikes in new coronavirus cases in counties north of Houston, such as Grimes County that saw an increase from 14.5 reported cases two weeks ago, to a high of 58.4, while Walker County cases jumped from 41.7 to 186.1 cases, Newsweek reported.

According to the latest figures compiled by Texas Department of State Health Services officials, the counties with the highest concentrations of illness are:

  • Harris County: 15,238 cases.
  • Dallas County: 12,645 cases.
  • Tarrant County: 6,433 cases.
  • Travis County: 3,976 cases.
  • El Paso County: 3,582 cases.
  • Bexar County: 3,513 cases.
  • Potter County: 2,766 cases.

In the capital city of Austin, Mayor Steve Adler urged residents to get tested — particularly in light of large-scale protests against police brutality that have been sparked nationwide. "It’s important that anyone in our community feeling symptoms, or has been recently exposed to a positive case or in a large crowd, like protests, get tested," Adler wrote on Twitter. In an accompanying video, he illustrated what a drive-through test looks like as he drove to a screening site:

To view more data on coronavirus in Texas, click here.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch