Houston leaders call for lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Caroline Linton

Houston leaders are calling for another lockdown as the number of active cases of the coronavirus in the county increased to more than 27,600 on Sunday. Houston's Harris County — the most populous county in Texas — has been the hardest-hit in the Lone Star State.

"Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted Sunday. "Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let's learn from that & not make the same mistake twice."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who had previously resisted a mask order in the state, warned Friday that the state would need to lockdown further if the case numbers don't decrease.

"The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive," Abbott told CBS affiliate KLBK-TV. "The only way that we can keep our businesses open, the only way that we can continue to have a job they need to pay their bill is for everyone to adopt this practice of wearing a face mask."

Abbott extended a statewide disaster mandate on Friday.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Saturday that he disagreed with Abbott's plan to reopen schools. "It makes no sense to be having this conversation while this virus is out of control," Turner said, according to CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV. "You don't send kids back to school when there's a raging fire and the fires still burning in August. Put the doggone fire out in July, so shut down for a couple of weeks."

In El Paso, the state's sixth-largest city, city-county health authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza ordered schools to remain closed until September 8, according to the El Paso Times. The county had a spike of 411 new cases on Sunday. 

"This virus is spreading like wildfire in our community and the only way to slow the spread is for everybody to take this seriously and stay home," Ocaranza said in a statement, according to CBS El Paso affiliate KDBC-TV. "If they must go out, it is important to practice all safety precautions."  

The number of coronavirus cases throughout Texas increased by more than 8,100 on Sunday, according to the state Department of Health. There were 80 fatalities.

The number of people hospitalized statewide increased again Sunday to more than 10,400, and there are 977 open ICU beds. The hospitalization rate has increased every day since June 11, when 2,008 people were hospitalized.

The U.S. Army Northern Command confirmed Sunday that it had sent 580 military medical personnel to Texas hospitals to assist in caring for coronavirus patients.

Trump wears mask for the first time in public

Shortage of coins in circulation causes concerns for small businesses and consumers

Turkey's Erdogan formally designates Hagia Sophia as a mosque