Almost 7,000 COVID-19 patients were in Texas hospitals Thursday, the most in almost three months, as infections of the coronavirus that causes the disease continue statewide, nationwide and worldwide.
The 6,925 hospitalizations are the most Texas has counted since Aug. 12, according to reports by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
However, state figures appear to be lagging indicators of the present COVID-19 outbreak in Texas when compared with statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The state coronavirus count for the pandemic that began in March was 993,841, while the Johns Hopkins count for Texas topped 1 million earlier this week. Meanwhile, the state's tabulations have often usually have left dozens, sometimes hundreds, of cases uncounted for weeks.
Overall, 62,525 new coronavirus infections and 698 new COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Texas in this past week alone, according to Johns Hopkins statistics. The Texas death toll for the pandemic was 19,469 as of Thursday.
The coronavirus wave continues to alarm local officials. As coronavirus cases overwhelmed El Paso-area hospitals, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego imposed a curfew, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asserts violates Gov. Greg Abbott's emergency order pre-empting local authority to take such action.
Now, the lone Republican in charge of one of the state’s top five urban counties said he would like to fine persons who do not and will not wear face masks, but Abbott's order will not allow it.
“That's the last thing in the world that we wanted to do, but our top priorities are keeping the hospitals open and keeping businesses open," Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley told KRLD-AM. "And with the huge increases that we've had in cases recently, the numbers that are beginning to show up in the hospitals, that's becoming more and more of a concern.”
Tarrant County, which was the last major Texas urban county to require face masks, reported 1,191 new coronavirus infections and seven new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, all with underlying health conditions. That brought the county’s total cases to 78,029 and its pandemic toll to 784.