’No reason to be alarmed’: Texas governor unfazed by rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Hospital capacity remains steady across Texas, Abbott says

While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are going up in San Antonio and across the state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that Texas is still faring well in the fight against the virus.

During the press conference, Abbott confirmed that Tuesday will mark a new high in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state, as Texas reported 2,622 new cases. But Abbott attributed the numbers to “one-offs” in smaller counties, some of which reported numbers in congregate settings like jails and prisons, he said.

Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates

Abbott also blamed the rise in cases on people younger than 30. The majority of people who have tested positive in June have been younger than 30 in Bexar, Cameron and Lubbock counties, the governor said.

In Bexar County, people ages 20-29 make up 22.7% of confirmed COVID-19 cases, higher than any other age group, according to county data.

While Abbott implored all Texans to continue following social distancing guidelines, including wearing face coverings, he pushed back on allowing counties to enforce a mandate on face masks.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and other county judges have written to Abbott in an effort to change his mind on the policy. But Abbott called their approach “two-faced” during the press conference.

“Whether it be in Dallas or elsewhere, they can impose fines not for face masks but for other strategies,” Abbott said, referencing more strict enforcement measures on large gatherings. “They haven’t lifted a finger to do so.”

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Hospitalization numbers

The rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations numbers across the state does “raise concerns,” Abbott said, “but there’s no reason to be alarmed.”

Though there are more COVID-19 hospitalizations now, Abbott said they still make up less than 10% of occupied hospital beds in nearly every Texas county.

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“We still remain at the lowest threat level in our hospital capacity,” Abbott said.

Dr. John Zerwas, a physician and former state representative who has been leading the state’s coronavirus response, said 15,000 staffed hospital beds remain available in Texas and that more beds are available if a surge were to happen.

“We have an incredibly robust health care system in the state of Texas,” Zerwas said.

Abbott said Texans will have to learn to coexist with COVID-19 for the next few months.

“We do not have to choose between returning to our jobs or protecting health care. We have a system in place where we can achieve both of those ends ... if everyone follows the safe strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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