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We keep hitting the wrong marks

Up, up, and up.

For the second day in a row, Texas has reported a record number of patients hospitalized with the new coronavirus, a metric Gov. Greg Abbott has said he’s watching as businesses continue reopening and limits on their operations are loosened.

Data released Tuesday by the Texas Department of State Health Services shows 2,056 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 1,935 the day before. The previous high was May 5, when 1,888 people were hospitalized.

The figures come a little more than a month since Abbott’s statewide stay-at-home order ended and he began a phased reopening of businesses. It also comes about two weeks after Memorial Day.

[…]

“I’m concerned but not yet alarmed,” Abbott told a North Texas television station. “I look at Amarillo that was a hot spot zone a couple of weeks ago, where they had a lot of concerns. We had surge response teams that addressed it, and now their hospitalizations are going down.”

Texas has 15,400 available hospital beds and 1,700 available ICU beds, the data shows. There are 5,900 ventilators available. The number of available beds is seen as a key gauge for the state’s ability to handle a potential surge in coronavirus cases, and Abbott has said the hospitalization rate — the proportion of infected Texans who are requiring hospitalization — is a benchmark he’s closely monitoring. He cited it as an encouraging metric as the state’s stay-at-home order expired at the end of April.

In Houston, Dallas and other areas that have seen increased hospitalizations, “we need to drill down and find out exactly why that is,” Abbott said.

Yeah, I’m closely monitoring the hospitalization rate, too. We’re now at three straight days of record numbers there, for those of you playing along at home. It’s happening locally, and it’s mostly been happening since Memorial Day. I’m going to keep asking the same question I have every time I do one of these posts: What’s our plan for when we start getting into the “dangerously full” zone for hospitals? If it turns out to be localized rather than everywhere in the state, will Greg Abbott let local leaders have more discretion to take action as they had back in March? I really really hope it doesn’t come to that, but hope seems to be all we’ve got.

UPDATE: From the Trib: “Texas reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases”. Insert shrug emoji here.

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3 Comments

  1. brad says:

    When Gov Abbot said “I’m concerned but not yet alarmed,” I think he was speaking about a more serious topic: college and pro football.

    Gov. Abbott is probably consulting his economic advisor Lt Gov Patrick to find out how best to pander to the base on this rising health threat.

    What could go wrong?

  2. Wolfgang says:

    The hospitalization rate is obviously a better indicator in data-quality terms than test results (either N positive or rate), but it also lags behind the real world infection spread. Not to mention that it would be preferable if fewer people got sick in the first place. If they need to hospitalized, they are already very seriously sick, and since only a certain percentage is affected that badly, and increase in hospitalizations implies a considerable increase in cases in the community that has since no doubt gotten worse (given the time delay involved in disease progression to hospitalization).

    At a joint press conference today Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Turner announced a new threat-level system (with visual gauge iconography), but conceded that they had to rely on information and persuasion — appeals to individual and business responsibility — since the Governor had taken away their powers to devise and enforce containment and mitigation measures for their local jurisdictions. Hidalgo mentioned that the community spread was out of control, meaning that they couldn’t link the contact-traced positive cases to common sources.

    Abbott will own the problem if gets out of hand, but his defenders will then no doubt blame the protests for the surge in infections, rather than state-initiated premature opening and easing of occupancy restrictions.

  3. […] here and here for some background. You can find the threat level system here. To put that latter […]