- Texas is not halting plans to reopen despite hospitals recording a record number of coronavirus patients.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state would continue to reopen “because we have so many hospital beds available to anybody who gets ill.”
- Texas is not the only state witnessing record numbers, as authorities in states like Arkansas and North Carolina have also expressed concern after a rise in coronavirus cases.
- White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said while the country was bound to see an increase in infection numbers as economies reopen, the rise in hospitalizations was concerning.
- Other states, including Oregon and Utah, have temporarily paused reopening plans as they investigate the spike in coronavirus cases.
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Texas will not halt its reopening plans despite hospitals reporting a record number of coronavirus patients for the third day in a row.
More than 2,100 people in the state have been hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, according to the Washington Post. Intensive care units in Houston are reportedly at 88 percent capacity.
When asked about the rise in cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that while he is “concerned,” he is not “alarmed.”
In an interview with KYTX television, Abbott said there is “no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state”, one reason being “because we have so many hospital beds available to anybody who gets ill.”
“For every person in a hospital bed, there are 10 open, available hospital beds available for them,” Abbott said. “So there’s plenty of hospital capacity to be able to deal with COVID-19.”
His comments come as restaurants in the state are allowed to operate at 75% capacity as of Friday, the Texas Tribune reported. Almost all other businesses are allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the country is bound to see an increase in infection numbers as economies start reopening but that the rise in hospitalizations was concerning.
“When you start seeing more hospitalizations, that’s a sure-fire sign that you’re in a situation where you’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.
Texas is not the only state experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. Arkansas saw its highest single-day increase on Friday, with 731 new COVID-19cases, according to local media.
On the same day, North Carolina also witnessed its highest single-day increase since the outbreak began, passing the 40,000 infections mark.
Mecklenburg County health director Gibbie Harris said on Friday: “We continue to see a decrease in social distancing and before long we will be back to where we were when we put the stay-at-home order in place.”
Meanwhile, other states have witnessed a surge in cases in the last week and are either pausing or slowing down their reopenings.
In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert ordered most of the state to stop reopening until June 26 while it looked into a new spike in cases. “I don’t want to go forward and then take a step backward,” Herbert said on Friday, according to Reuters.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Thursday a week-long postponement of applications to reopen.
In a statement cited in Reuters, Brown said: “This is essentially a statewide ‘yellow light,’ it’s time to press pause for one week before any further reopening.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new coronavirus guidelines this week, which “strongly” encouraged the use of cloth face coverings when attending large events such as demonstrations, or political rallies.
Speaking about the recent protests in an interview with ABC News, Fauci said: “You know, it’s a danger to the people who are trying to control the demonstration. And it’s a danger to the people who are demonstrating. So at the end of the day, it is a risky procedure.”
Fauci said he understood why people were protesting, but that the official advice remains to avoid crowded places. “If you can do both, avoid the congregation of people and do the mask, that’s great,” he said.
This week, the US passed 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases. The country also recorded more than 112,000 deaths — the worst in the world, according to Worldometers.