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July 17 COVID-19 case totals: Texas sets record for deaths reported in single day with 174

Texas Department of State Health Services also reported more than 10,000 coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day.

HOUSTON — Texas Department of State Health Services announced a new high of COVID-19 deaths reported in a single day on Friday with 174.

The previous record, set Thursday, was 129 deaths. Friday's total is the third-straight day of breaking the previous record for deaths reported in a single day. Wednesday, the state reported 110 deaths.

DSHS also reported 10,256 new coronavirus cases Friday, making it the fourth-straight day of reporting at least 10,000 new cases.

The state also noted a "wrinkle:" a lab reporting backlog out of Bexar County.

"The local health department last night reported about 5,500 additional cases, the vast majority of which were due to a lab reporting backlog. 608 of those cases are new confirmed cases and are included in today’s new case number. The other confirmed cases have been added to the overall state number," said a spokesperson for DSHS.

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The City of Houston reported 11 deaths on Friday and 986 new cases. Harris County outside the city of Houston reported 600 new cases and seven deaths.

Two City of Houston municipal employees (not police officers or firefighters) died in the last 24 hours due to coronavirus, according to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

"If people don’t recognize the fact that this virus is running rampant in our community, that more and more people are getting infected, more people are showing up in the hospitals, more people are ending up in ICUs, more people are dying; if people will not assume responsibility, recognizing everything we’ve been saying on a daily basis, and continue to congregate in large numbers, gatherings, no social distancing, no masks, then they are the ones who are going to be forcing a ‘stay home’ order,” Mayor Turner said.

Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse compared the deaths per 100,000 people in Houston to the same rates in other big cities, including New York, New Orleans, and Chicago, showing that Houston's is about 12.6 per 100,000. New York City is 223.1 per 100,000; New Orleans is 138.9 per 100,000.

"Don't let anybody be fooled," said Dr. Persse. "That's not because the virus changed. That's because our doctors and nurses have become more expert."

Persse cited SETRAC data that says 700 people are in Harris County hospital ICUs. He said 1,600 others are in hospitals, not in ICUs. He said there are about 8,000 adult hospital beds in the city of Houston for all 2.3 million people. He said roughly 20 percent of COVID-19 patients require hospitalization. 

Essentially, if at any time, 1.5 percent of Houston's population gets coronavirus, every single adult hospital bed in the city would be full, leaving no room for pregnant women, people who suffer heart attacks or strokes, or those who get into car crashes.

Persse warned that just because you do not have symptoms or do not know someone who is sick, does not mean the virus is not a problem.

"If the virus continues to spread uncontrolled like it is now, we will rapidly approach a situation where our hospital partners, who, in spite of the truly tremendous work that they have done to take care of everybody who needs a hospital bed, they're going to be overwhelmed," said Persse.

"There is a limit to the limit that they can perform," said Persse. "You may not know anyone who is sick, and you may not know anyone who has died... yet."

This story will be updated.