More Texans are currently being treated in hospitals for COVID-19 than at any other point since the pandemic began, the latest state data shows.
It’s the sixth day in a row coronavirus hospitalizations have broken previous records. Every day since last Friday has seen hospitalizations peak, and then reach a new record the following day.
Overall, hospitalizations have been trending upward since early June, about a week after Gov. Greg Abbott allowed all Texas businesses to open.
The number of daily new confirmed coronavirus cases is also up. The state reported 3,129 new cases on Wednesday, its highest number yet.
On Tuesday, Abbott blamed the spike in recent confirmed cases on data errors, the bundling of data received from certain Texas prisons, and young people, whom the governor said were not taking the pandemic seriously.
It’s unclear just how many “data errors” we should attribute to the fact that the moving average of confirmed coronavirus cases has seen steady growth since late May, or why the share of those tests that come back positive has rebounded in recent weeks.
While Abbott may be slow to realize what’s happening, it’s a trend happening all over the southern U.S.; California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana have seen COVID-19 cases grow alongside Texas.
Abbott has assured Texans the state has plenty of hospital beds left and that more can be prepared if a surge occurs. As of Thursday, with 2,947 COVID-19 patients being treated, there remain 13,472 available hospital beds statewide.
More concerning is the number of available intensive care beds in major metro areas. In Harris County, 1,508 out of 1,622 operational ICU beds are currently in use. That represents 93 percent capacity for operational ICU beds and about 77 percent when considering available “surge beds,” or ICU beds that could be staffed in case of a major spike in cases. Overall, the general bed capacity in Harris County is currently at a little under half.
“Do we have enough hospital space? Yes. We have plenty right now, but if we continue going in these trends, if we continue that acceleration, eventually we’re getting to a point where we’re putting that space in jeopardy,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo warned Thursday.
A similar trend is occurring in Dallas County, where County Judge Clay Jenkins reported the highest spike yet in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Available ICU beds in Dallas County are also at or nearing capacity, according to the latest monitoring data reported Wednesday.
As of Thursday, 99,851 coronavirus cases have been reported in the state and 2,105 Texans have died from the virus.
Photo: Jonas Güttler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com