Story at a glance

  • Peter Hotez, a doctor, believes Texas needs to enforce stronger social distancing measures to combat the rampant virus spread.
  • Texas, Arizona, and California are among the states experiencing a dramatic surge in new cases and hospitalizations.

Two days before Texas reported its highest daily case count since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist headquartered in Houston, urged the state to take action immediately as new cases ravaged the city — one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. 

On Tuesday, Texas reported a record-high daily new case count of 5,489. Hotez called the figure “horrifying” when speaking to reporters at The Houston Chronicle. Daily new case data on Wednesday and Thursday would rise even further, hitting 5,551 and 5,996, respectively. 

“It's absolutely horrifying,” Hotez said. “I'm terribly upset about what I see happening. There were some predictive models out of Pennsylvania that actually showed this. This is why I didn't want Texas to open up as early [as] it did.”

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Texas was one of the first states to reopen, having seen a relatively low case number at the onset of the pandemic. As community spread enabled the virus to travel, the state continued to reopen, despite public health officials offering stricter guidelines when doing so.  

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Now, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has officially paused reopening efforts until cases can be further controlled. 

For Hotez, social distancing is the best and quickest solution immediately available. 

“We have to implement a significant level of social distancing. Now, we have no choice.  We have to take action before the weekend,” he said. “At the minimum, we must focus on the metropolitan areas –– Houston, San Antonio and Austin.  We are already reaching a dire health crisis in Houston, and it will only get worse.”

His comments precede Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo moving the county’s pandemic status to the highest threat level, which will ban gatherings of more than 100 people. The judge is urging other counties to follow suit. 

 

 

When asked what his message to Texans and all Americans would be regarding the dramatic rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Hotez says that the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a failure. 

"Nationally, this is one of the biggest public health failings in the history of the U.S. We have a vaccine that we are hoping to advance this time next year,” he said. “This pandemic is not getting better on its own. This is a public health crisis that we share with Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. We need to make an urgent plan to take action before the weekend."


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Published on Jun 26, 2020