Texas Surpasses 1 Million Total COVID Cases; Lubbock Prepares For Hospital Overflow
From Texas Standard:
Texas now leads the county in total coronavirus cases, this week reaching 1 million total cases since the start of the pandemic.
Jordan Rubio reported on the milestone with a team of reporters at the Houston Chronicle. He told Texas Standard that earlier in the pandemic, Texas' cases were relatively low because of its shutdown in March. But experts have told him that Texas didn't stay closed long enough, or act aggressively enough after the shutdown to mitigate the spread. That has led to another surge in cases.
"What they're saying is that we didn't stay locked down long enough, that the state reopened too fast," Rubio said.
A Chronicle count indicates over 19,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Texas, making it second only to New York, which was the epicenter of the pandemic earlier in the spring.
But cases and deaths are hitting some cities harder than others, including El Paso. Rubio says about 15% of all hospitalizations right now in Texas are in that city.
"El Paso is currently where the bulk of the cases and the hospitalizations are happening," he said. "There are something like 6,779 hospitalizations last I checked. More than 1,000 of them are in El Paso."
Cases are also rising in Texas' largest cities like Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But Rubio says so far it hasn't pushed hospitals in those cities past capacity. He echoed the sentiment of Texas coronavirus expert Dr. Peter Hotez, and said: "Maybe the worst is yet to come."
What's Happening In Lubbock
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are also surging in Lubbock. Health Director Katherine Wells says like El Paso, hospitals there are struggling with capacity.
"We've been over that 15% mark now for at least two weeks, and they're bringing in what they're referring to as 'blue tents.' It's what we're seeing also in El Paso. So they're setting up surge capacity outside both our major health care systems here," Wells told Texas Standard.
The latest developments and Wells' recommendations:
– The state is bringing in medical tents to help Lubbock hospitals deal with an overflow of patients
– There has been "lots of community spread," especially among those gathering in small groups who may "let their guard down" by not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. It's also among young people gathering for activities outside the classroom.
"Once they walk off that school property, you start seeing the gathering of kids, playgrounds, carpooling, sporting events – all of that contributes to the spread."
– This is Lubbock's "third wave" of cases, which started in September and October, and is the largest so far. The first wave was in nursing homes in the spring; the second came after bars reopened.
– Residents should limit social interactions during the holidays, as difficult as that may be for some people.
"We just have to accept that this fall is going to look different, and it's not going to meet kind of what our expectations are for holidays and gatherings. ... We really need to get back to the basics of wearing masks, hand-washing, watching your distance and really limiting those interactions with others."
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