Weekend wrap-up: COVID-19 hospitalizations peak, UT athletes push for change, and Ted Cruz

by | Jun 15, 2020 | Policy, Politics

On Sunday, Texas health officials reported 2,287 coronavirus patients were currently being treated in Texas hospitals — the largest number since the pandemic began in March. 

It’s one of many record-breaking days this month; almost every day since last Sunday has seen COVID-19 hospitalizations reach a new statewide peak, only to be broken the following day.

Of Texas’ five major metro areas, all minus El Paso have seen a spike in hospitalizations in recent weeks, coinciding with Gov. Greg Abbott’s aggressive reopening of the state. 

In Dallas and Harris County, the growth in hospitalizations has dangerously thinned the availability of ICU beds used to treat the most severe coronavirus cases.

The latest data for Harris County released Saturday shows 1,460 out of 1,628 ICU beds in use, or about 90 percent, according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. Similar weekend data shows ICU bed usage nearing or at capacity in Dallas County. 

Dallas County Health and Human Services

“Texas, North Texas and Dallas County are currently seeing their highest number of hospitalizations,” warned Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Sunday. “Yesterday, we ended the week with an average of 300 cases per day, our highest average ever, the highest average for COVID-19 hospitalizations, and we saw our second lowest week in deaths last week since early April with 21 deaths.”

Dallas County’s COVID-19 risk tracker is currently advising residents to stay home and safe. A similar threat tracker was unveiled in Harris County last week and has remained orange ever since, urging residents to minimize all contacts.

“I want the reopening to be successful. I want the economy to be resilient,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said on Thursday. “But I am growing increasingly concerned that we may be at the precipice of a disaster.”

UT athletes are done with “Eyes of Texas”

On Friday, the University of Texas athletes shared a statement pushing campus officials to make a series of changes that they said will make the athletic department and university more inclusive for Black students.

Among them, renaming a building named after Robert Lee Moore, a mathematics professor who taught at the University of Texas and supported segregation, and doing away with the “Eyes of Texas,” a song played during football games whose origins can be traced back to racist minstrel shows. 

“We, as student athletes, and collectively as the University of Texas Longhorn football team, are aware that we are an athletic department made up of many black athletes, and believe that it is time we become active on our campus,” the statement read. 

Multiple UT football players shared the statement, including sophomore wide receiver Brennan Eagles, who earlier this month threatened not to play while issues of systematic racism were unaddressed. 

Ted Cruz inches us closer to the abyss 

At midnight on Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz sent a tweet urging actor Ron Perlman to wrestle Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). 

The tweet was in response to Perlman, best known for the “Hellboy” franchise, calling the Ohio congressman ugly. The feud embarrassingly continued into early Monday.

It’s the type of Idiocracy-style politics popularized by the Tea Party and President Trump, and which Cruz is no stranger to. That same week, Cruz called protestors taking down a Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol the “American Taliban” and falsely claimed Columbus never committed genocide, something well-documented by historians.

Photo:  Samuel Corum/Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

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 fernando@texassignal.com

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