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Gov. Abbott advises wearing masks, staying home as Texas sets another record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

This comes as Texas sees its fifth straight day of record numbers of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave an update on the coronavirus response Tuesday after a recent spike in cases statewide.

He said there was another record high of 2,622 cases reported Tuesday. An additional 1,476 were reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Those cases were previously diagnosed inmates in Anderson and Brazoria counties.

Abbott says looking at specific hot spots and geographic areas of the spikes will help put the numbers in context.

"I want you to know that this is the same type of analysis that we use on an ongoing basis as we look into each and every county across the entire state of Texas to figure out exactly what is going on," Abbott said.

Abbott also urged people to stay home as much as possible and recommended only leaving home if necessary. He also recommended people use hand sanitizer, maintain social distancing and wear a mask.

He particularly emphasized the importance of wearing a mask due to the risk of being an asymptomatic carrier. Even if someone does not feel sick, it is still possible to be a carrier, so wearing a mask protects other people in the event that you are an asymptomatic carrier.

While he did urge people to wear masks, he maintained his previous position that he did not believe local governments should make it a legal requirement or impose punishments for not wearing a mask in public places.

"Putting people in jail is the wrong approach and that's exactly what I think the Dallas County judge wants to do," Abbott said Tuesday. "Jenkins hasn't lifted a finger to use other tools of enforcement." 

He also said people ages 30 and younger are testing positive at a higher rate than other age groups.                                                             

Abbott said if standards are being followed in bar-type settings, the spread of COVID-19 should be slowed. He also said the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission should be enforcing these standards.

"Businesses have learned safe strategies both for their employees as well as their customers to make sure that they're preventing the spread of COVID-19," he said.  

In the press conference, the governor was joined by  Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas System John Zerwas, MD, Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. 

The medical professionals were confident in the availability of hospital beds and ventilators in the state. They said even if hospital beds do start to become full, there are support areas to handle the additional bed load. 

This comes as Texas sees its fifth straight day of record numbers of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. Texas health officials reported 2,326 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 Monday. On Tuesday, that number rose to 2,518, a new record for the state since the pandemic began. 

Over the last five days, the number of hospitalizations in the state has surged by 544, or 25 percent. On June 12, there were 2,166 people in Texas hospitals with the virus.

 

Below is the breakdown of cases per city in Texas: 

Dallas-Fort Worth 

24% of the area's 14,383 beds are available 

Houston 

21% of the area's 12,458 beds are available. 

El Paso

31% of the area's 1,805 beds are available. There are 97 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients in the hospital. 

Amarillo

41% of the area's 1,038 beds are available. 

"This is where we had some issues with our meatpacking plants," said Zerwas, the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at UT, adding that it's no longer a "hotspot" for the coronavirus. 

San Antonio

26% of the area's 5,799 reported beds are available.

Cases continue to spike across the state, in both larger cities and smaller cities and towns. 

Here in Bexar County, there has also been a recent uptick in cases after businesses started reopening. Take a look at the 14-day moving average of new daily cases in Bexar County as of Monday evening:

Credit: KENS

Texas is also in the middle of Stage 3 of the governor's economic reopening plan which allows restaurants to operate at 75% capacity and other businesses to operate at 50% capacity. Some areas, including Austin, have urged local businesses to voluntarily reduce capacity below that during this recent spike in coronavirus cases.

See the full news conference below: 

Gov. Abbott gives coronavirus update

LIVE: Gov. Abbott gives an update on coronavirus response after spike in hospitalizations

Posted by KENS 5 & Kens5.com on Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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