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Texas sets record high of COVID-19 hospitalizations

Illustration of county-by-county case map by Henry Keller
Illustration of county-by-county case map by Henry Keller (KSAT)

AUSTIN, Texas – Novel coronavirus infections reached a record high for the third time in four days Friday, even as state officials continue to loosen restrictions on public activities.

State health officials said 2,166 patients were in Texas hospitals with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, 13 more than Wednesday’s record.

Friday saw almost 2,100 new cases reported in Texas, bringing the total to 83,680. However, the true number is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Nineteen new deaths reported Friday from the disease brought the overall state death toll to 1,939.

The upward trend comes six weeks into Texas’ reopening that began in May, which kicked off one of the fastest reboots of daily life in the U.S, and as restaurants got permission to expand their dining rooms to nearly full capacity Friday. While thousands of hospital beds remain available, officials are voicing concern.

Throughout the record-setting week in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and state health officials have pointed out hotspots in rural counties with meatpacking plants and prisons but have not offered an explanation for rising caseloads elsewhere. But on Wednesday, some big city officials and health experts readily linked the worsening numbers to businesses reopening and people growing more complacent with social distancing.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.