On a week when the governor of Texas said the coronavirus “is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error,” the Dallas-area lakeshores were packed with revelers on the 4th of July, demonstrating that of all the states seeing coronavirus cases spike, the Lone Star State may be the most conflicted. Houston hospitals are overflowing with patients while in West Texas, a distrust in the government has some flaunting the health laws, including the statewide face mask mandate. Meanwhile, hospitalizations soar.
“Texas reported 8,238 cases in the last day, another new daily record for the state,” according to ABC News. “Since June 23, when cases crossed 5,000 for the first time, the state has set a new daily case record six times. Total tests have climbed over that period, but positivity rates have as well. The state,” the network goes on, “has had 191,790 cases to date with 91,752 considered active. There have been 2,608 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. There are now 7,890 patients hospitalized statewide.” Both the Atlantic and Bloomberg News said Texas has “lost control” of the virus.
“COVID-19 is not going away, in fact, it’s getting worse. Now more than ever, action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a video released to citizens. “We must do more to slow the spread without locking Texas back down.” More than 91 counties have hit record high numbers in just the past three days, he added.
“It’s worse, will continue to get worse, and will take months to improve substantially,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the national case totals; Texas has the third-most nationally, after New York and California. “More than 2,857,500 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 129,600 have died,” according to a New York Times database. “We are going in the wrong direction, fast.”
“The Virus is a Terminator”
Gov. Abbott issued a statewide mandate for Texans to wear face masks but not everyone is thrilled with the rule—or with the Governor, who has also paused some reopening plans—including folks of all political stripes. “Melissa Lynn Kelly owns a bar in Longview, Texas. Kelly and other bar owners are suing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after he closed bars across the state to curb the recent surge of COVID-19 cases,” reports NPR. Meanwhile, there is dissension in his own party. “The Ector County Republican Party voted Saturday to censure Gov. Greg Abbott, accusing him of overstepping his authority in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, while state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, called for a special session so lawmakers could have a say in how Texas proceeds amid soaring caseloads,” reports the Texas Tribune. “[Chairperson] Tisha Crow said she was among those who supported the resolution, which accuses Abbott of violating five party principles related to his exercise of executive power during the pandemic.”
In an editorial in the Dallas Morning News, Tracy Westen of Dallas wrote that “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott needs to understand the coronavirus isn’t a disobedient teenager, grounded at home for a month, who will learn her lesson. The virus is a terminator: ‘That terminator is out there. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with … it doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear…. And it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.'”
“Back at Square One”
The state’s troubles may be best illustrated by what’s happening in Houston, where hospitals are struggling to keep up with patient intake. “What’s been disheartening over the past week or two has been that it feels like we’re back at square one,” Dr. Mir M. Alikhan, a pulmonary and critical care specialist, said to his medical team before rounds, according to the New York Times. Some there compared it to New York City all over again, referencing the onetime coronavirus epicenter. “It’s really a terrible kind of sinking feeling.” On the bright side, Dr. Alikhan added: “We’re not truly back at square one, right? Because we have the last three months of expertise that we’ve developed.” In addition, the death rate is not soaring as quickly as the case rate.
As for yourself, no matter where you live, and especially in Texas, try your best to not catch COVID-19 at all, and do your best not to spread it: wear a well-fitted homemade mask with multiple layers of quilting fabric, or an off-the-shelf cone style mask; practice social distancing; wash your hands frequently; monitor your health; and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.