Story at a glance
- Texas on Tuesday reported more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, marking a new high in the state while hospitalizations also hit an all-time high.
- One doctor said the state is seeing an exponential rise in cases.
- On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) implored residents to stay home, but has said he will not mandate restrictions.
As Texas grapples with record coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a prominent doctor in the state is sounding the alarm, saying it should consider imposing a full lockdown and social distancing measures to try to curb transmission.
Texas on Tuesday reported more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, an in-state record, while hospitalizations also hit an all-time high.
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“We’re seeing a very steep acceleration now in the number of cases here in Houston, in our metro areas, as you pointed out, and also in San Antonio and Austin,” Peter Hotez, the dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s New Day Wednesday morning.
“It’s not just an increase in the number of cases, it’s the slope, the way it’s accelerating, it’s almost vertical. This is what we call an exponential rise, meaning it’s been flat for a while but now it’s going up almost vertically,” Hotez said.
“The numbers are quite concerning in terms of the number of cases, but in some ways that’s the least of it because our hospitalizations are going up dramatically,” he added.
Hotez has called the situation in Texas “the greatest public health failure in the history of the nation.”
He told CNN the state should consider what it did toward the end of March, imposing an aggressive full lockdown and social distancing.
“That’s the only way that I see that we’re going to start to bring those numbers down,” he said.
Hotez described a dire situation in the Texas medical Center, the world’s largest with 60 institutions, saying projections estimate intensive care units (ICU) will fill up over the next two weeks. That’s significant because as ICUs fill up, the mortality rate increases.
Texas Children’s Hospital has started admitting adult patients as hospitalizations soar in Harris County in and around Houston.
Texas was one of the first states to begin reopening in late April, and is currently on the third phase of its reopening plan, which allows businesses such as bars, gyms and office buildings to function at 50 percent capacity. Some businesses have been allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity.
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) implored residents to stay home.
“First, we want to make sure that everyone reinforces the best safe practices of wearing a mask, hand sanitization, maintaining safe distance, but importantly, because the spread is so rampant right now, there’s never a reason for you to have to leave your home,” Abbott said. “Unless you do need to go out, the safest place for you is at your home.”
Abbott noted that more announcements regarding the state's efforts to combat the spread of the disease would come later in the week.
But Abbott on Monday dismissed the idea of imposing any new restrictions on businesses and other activities, noting that the rise in cases was “unacceptable,” but standing firm in the claim that the state would stay “open for business.”
The state has recorded more than 122,000 cases and more than 2,200 deaths.