Texas health official ‘frightened by what is coming’ as COVID-19 cases mount

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A top Texas county health official told state lawmakers this week that he is “frightened by what is coming” as hospitals become overwhelmed by COVID-19 surges caused by the highly transmissible delta variant. 

Esmaeil Porsa, the president and CEO of the Harris County health system, said in testimony before the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services that the growing number of hospitalizations in the state should worry lawmakers, with more than 10,000 residents admitted to hospitals this week alone. 

“If this continues, and I have no reason to believe that it will not, there is no way my hospital is going to be able to handle this. There is no way the region is going to be able to handle this,” Porsa said. 

“I am one of those people that always sees the glass half-full, I always see the silver lining,” Porsa explained. “But I am frightened by what is coming.”

On Wednesday alone, the Texas Department of Health recorded 14,214 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 100 new deaths due to the virus. 

According to The New York Times, at least 53 Texas hospitals were at maximum capacity in their intensive care units. 

The surge is also impacting children at a higher rate, with the American Academy of Pediatrics revealing this week that children are accounting for 15 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. 

On Tuesday, The Dallas Morning News reported that only two pediatric intensive care unit beds were available in the Dallas area. 

Hospitals and public health experts across the country are ramping up their warnings about the recent outbreaks, which are largely occurring among unvaccinated communities across the country. 

The infections and pressure on hospitals come as local officials in Texas are challenging Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) ban on mask mandates in schools. 

Abbott and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) are asking an appeals court to strike down an order from Dallas County requiring residents to wear masks in schools and businesses.

On Tuesday, a judge approved a request for a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s ban filed by officials from Bexar County and San Antonio.

Tags banning mask mandates coronavirus outbreak Delta variant New York Times Texas

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