One million COVID cases in Texas. Hooray?
Texas’ grim distinction as the national leader in terms of COVID-19 infections came as little surprise to some local medical experts, who blamed politicians for conflicting messages about the virus and warned the worst is yet to come.
Texas this week breached a milestone of 1 million cumulative cases since the start of the pandemic, recording more infections than any other state in the U.S. For reference, more people have been infected in the Lone Star state than live in Austin, the state’s capitol.
If Texas were its own country, it would rank 10th in terms of total cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, placing it higher than European hotspots like Italy.
The big numbers are not a shock in a state that’s home to roughly 29 million people. The number of cases per 100,000 residents is lower here than in about half of the states in the country. But Texas also had more newly reported cases in the last seven days — an average of about 8,200 — than other large, hard-hit states such as New York, California and Florida. Only Illinois has a higher seven-day average.
Dr. David Callender, president of the Memorial Hermann Health System, called the 1 million cases “a sobering statistic.”
“It’s not a surprise in the context of all that’s happened,” Callender said. “But it’s a significant number — 3 percent of the population — and cause for worry about the trend continuing as we go forward.”
Callender attributed the high number to “too much division” in the attempt to contain the virus.
“To me, politics entered in an inappropriate way,” said Callender. “People making a political statement with their behavior — that the pandemic is a hoax, that no one can make them wear a mask — really interfered with efforts. It was the wrong mindset.”
The state’s positive test rate is now 11.24%, compared to 7.64% a month ago.
Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to messages Tuesday.
Too busy propping up Donald Trump’s ego to deal with this kind of trivia, I suppose.
The number of coronavirus patients in Texas hospitals has nearly doubled since October, and average infections are at their highest point in almost three months — leaving health officials bracing for a potential crush of hospitalizations going into the holidays.
In El Paso, hospitals are so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients that in early November the Department of Defense sent medical teams to help, and the county has summoned 10 mobile morgues to hold dead bodies. Local funeral homes are readying extra refrigerated storage space, as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in the far West Texas city has shot up nearly tenfold since the start of September.
The new wave of infections stands in contrast to the summer surge, when Gov. Greg Abbott held regular press conferences about the virus and mandated that face coverings be worn, earning him the ire of the far-right. Now, state officials seem reluctant to crack down on the virus’ spread by further curtailing economic activity — and are fighting the El Paso county judge’s attempt to impose a curfew and a stay-at-home order in the face of record-breaking cases.
The state will not do anything to help, and you local leaders are not allowed to do anything to help. You’re on your own. If you’re very lucky, maybe you won’t have your health insurance taken away while you recover. Did I mention that disaster and emergency response ought to be a big theme of the 2022 election? Texas Monthly has more.
UPDATE: Nothing to see here.
I just want to reiterate that the number of people hospitalized for COVID in Texas rose *10%* in one day.
Not good at all.
— Matt Largey (@mattlargey) 10:31 PM – 11 November 2020