Texas reported more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as hospitals in some parts of the state begin to show signs of straining to keep up with the renewed spread of the virus.
Today’s total of 5,489 cases is a new high in a month of record-setting numbers. And for the 12th day in a row, the state is reporting a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations — 4,092.
The number of daily new cases began to climb around Memorial Day, following the reopening of many businesses in Texas, as ordered by the governor, on May 1.
Texas’ previous record number of new cases – 4,430 – was reported on Saturday. That number was more than double the average number of new cases being reported in early June. While some of the increase can be attributed to more testing capacity, cases are growing far faster than testing.
The state’s positivity rate (the percentage of tests administered that come back positive) has doubled since late May.
Despite the surge in cases, the increase in coronavirus-related deaths has remained steady. Deaths, though, are considered a lagging indicator of the severity of the pandemic.
At the same time, hospitalizations have increased. In Houston, the nation’s largest children’s hospital began admitting adult patients to help keep up with rising admissions. Austin’s daily hospital admissions for COVID-19 have also spiked in the past few weeks.
“There remain a lot of people in the state of Texas who think that the spread of COVID-19 is not a challenge,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Bryan TV station KBTX on Tuesday. “The coronavirus is serious. It's spreading."
Abbott urged people to take precautions: stay at home and wear a mask if they go out. On Tuesday, he also granted local officials more power to limit gatherings of more than 100 people and directed the state health and human services department to draw up emergency rules for child care centers to help limit the spread of the virus in those settings.
In the meantime, local officials are practically begging residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of the virus. Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s order requiring businesses to mandate employees, customers and visitors wear masks went into effect Tuesday. Many other cities and counties have also put similar requirements in place.
New cases in Austin began spiking earlier this month, going from 118 new cases on June 8 to 506 new cases this past Sunday. Health officials in Austin say they’re having a hard time keeping up with new cases. Adler said Monday’s relatively lower total only happened because staff could not enter all the positive tests they had received.
Many of the new cases in Austin are among younger people. Austin’s interim Medical Authority, Dr. Mark Escott, told Travis County Commissioners on Tuesday that 70% of new cases were from people ages 20 to 39. Hays County reported similar findings last week, attributing a spike in cases there to young people tubing on the San Marcos River.
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