Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday that the state had surpassed 5,000 new cases in a single day for the first time.
“There remain a lot of people in the state of Texas who think that the spread of COVID-19 is not a challenge,” Abbott told news station KBTX. “The coronavirus is serious. It’s spreading.”
While he did not offer an exact number for the new positive cases, a figure that was expected to be announced later Tuesday, he said state’s infection rate has doubled since late May. In Harris County, the number of COVID-19 patients has nearly tripled, reports Newsweek.
Texas has seen more than 25,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week, and the seven-day average is nearing 4,000.
Abbott also said that Texas reached an 11th consecutive day of record COVID-19 hospitalizations on Monday, when the state recorded 3,711 patients.
The governor has told the public that the state has enough hospital beds to treat the influx of sick people. However, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the largest pediatric hospital in the country, began accepting adult patients on Tuesday in effort to provide additional beds for the surging number of people with COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “We are moving very fast in the wrong direction.” Houston is part of Harris County, an area that has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
On Monday, the Houston Health Department confirmed that general bed capacity has gone up 117 percent since May 31 and that intensive care unit capacity has increased 64 percent.
“This is very real. This is a health care crisis,” Turner said. “And quite frankly, your failure, for example, to wear masks and/or to engage in social distancing directly impacts on somebody else.”
While the governor had emphasized that Texans should be wearing face coverings in an effort to contain the outbreak, he has yet to mandate masks in public spaces.
“Wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open. Not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking people’s lives and ultimately leading to the closure of more businesses,” Abbott said at a Monday news conference.
“COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it,” he added. “Together, we will keep Texans safe, and we will keep our state open for business.”