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Houston vaccine scientist: It's time to roll back the reopening to stop the spike in COVID-19 cases

Dr. Peter Hotez says he doesn't see how Texas will avoid another stay-home order or at least "dial back" its reopening plans for large cities.

HOUSTON — Houston pediatrician, author and vaccine scientist Dr. Peter Hotez has a message for lawmakers: "spikes don't end by themselves, spikes end when we intervene."

He is worried that masks are no longer enough to halt the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in Texas, especially in large metropolitan areas like Houston.

"It's starting to look like a runaway train," said Hotez.

In an interview with KHOU 11 News, he says it's time to roll back the reopening to stop the recent spike.

Early Tuesday, the infectious disease expert tweeted, "Alarming rise in #COVID19 cases hospitalizations in #Houston, also #Dallas #Austin getting really bad.  I don't see how the Governor avoids a stay-at-home or some dialing back in the #Texas Triangle metro areas.  Our ICUs can't handle the surge, this won't turn around on its own."

A new COVID-19 model put out by Dr. Chris Amos of Baylor College of Medicine projects Harris County could see 2,000 daily cases of the virus by mid-July if public behavior does not change. 

"It's a wake up call," said Amos. "A disturbing projection. I hope the public takes away that they need to protect themselves, their family and their friends."

Last week, Dr. Hotez stopped short of saying another stay-home order of some kind would be needed, but with the latest numbers, he has changed his mind.

Credit: KHOU 11
Texas coronavrius cases as of June 22, 2020

He hopes his message won't just be heard by just Texas lawmakers either. He rebukes President Donald Trump's recent claims the spike in cases is because of an increase in testing.

"Even if we never did another #COVID19 test across the communities of America, this won't hide a steep terrifying rise in #TexasCOVID19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions in our @TXMedCenter. We now face a public health crisis," he tweeted at the president on Tuesday.

At the same time, he agrees Texas leaders are in a tight spot:

"Not happy to see #AbbottBetrayedTexas trending. I think this is unfair. While I disagreed with many of his public health decisions, I believe he made them with good intentions, trying to do his best for TX. But this is not working for our metro areas: We must dial things back," the doctor tweeted.

Hotez is hopeful lawmakers will take some significant action by the end of the week.

Late Monday, Texas Children's Hospital confirmed to KHOU 11 News that its hospital would start admitting adult patients to free up hospital beds.

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