Story at a glance
- Hospitalizations in Texas have been consistently rising for 10 days.
- Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb calls the forthcoming week "pivotal" in terms of observing new case growth.
With Texas in its third stage of reopening and new coronavirus cases rising in the Sun Belt of the U.S., recent data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows consistent increases in hospitalizations across the state.
Reported by Business Insider, hospitalizations associated with the coronavirus in Texas have been rising since June 11, moving from 2,008 to 3,409 by June 20.
Similarly, the testing positivity rate has been generally growing since June 13, reporting at 9.51 percent.
On June 16, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) stated that increases in hospitalizations are not a total by-product of COVID-19 infections.
“A lot of COVID patients are out there, they aren’t driving the hospital census,” said John Zerwas, the executive vice chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System, at the same press conference.
Additionally, Texas is reportedly ready for an influx in hospitalizations, with Abbott stating that there are overflow beds ready. State data corroborates this, with 14,697 available beds reported by the department of health.
Despite bed availability appearing to meet the needs of rising hospitalizations, some experts are worried about the steady rise in new cases.
Speaking with CNBC, Scott Gottlieb, the former director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), voiced concern over the latest data, saying the state is “on the cusp of losing control.”
“The question is ‘can we keep this from getting out of control.’ This is a virus that wants to infect a very large portion of the population,” Gottlieb said. “They’re on the cusp of losing control of those outbreaks in certain parts of those states. Arizona, Houston, Austin, parts of Florida certainly look very concerning right now.”
Along with Texas, hospitalizations are increasing in southern parts of California. In Arizona, ICU bed capacity remains at 84 percent, with general inpatient bed capacity recording a slightly lower 82 percent. The state appears to be struggling to maintain a strong decline in hospitalizations following concerns over capacity two weeks ago.
With these trends maintaining, Gottlieb believes the coming days will be crucial in solidifying the direction of the virus.
"I think this week's going to really be a pivotal week for us to get a picture of where things are heading in states like Florida and Arizona and Texas, whether or not they're tipping over into exponential growth or not," Gottlieb explained. "The problem is with exponential growth everything looks sort of okay until all of a sudden it doesn't."
In the U.S., cases have skyrocketed to more than 2 million, leading the world in confirmed infections.