AUSTIN, Texas — Texas set a record for new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with more than 5,000 new cases reported statewide. Luis de Leon spoke to Dr. Diana Fite, the president of the Texas Medical Association, about that spike and what it means for Texas.
Luis de Leon: "What do you make of this huge jump in cases – day after day, it seems like. Why are we seeing this and what does it say about where we are as a state battling COVID-19?"
Dr. Fite: "It's not unexpected at all since we opened up the state around Memorial Day and you saw pictures of people lined up shoulder-to-shoulder without any masks on and not really doing what the governor asked all Texans to do, which was to open up the state but to socially distance and wash their hands and use masks. You just didn't see that happening. So, it's not surprising to see this surge in cases.
de Leon: "Now, in Austin specifically, along with the rise in cases, we're also seeing a rise in hospitalizations – jumping today [June 23] to an average of nearly 40 new hospital patients. Are there concerns with how much room hospitals have or with their supplies?"
Dr. Fite: "Overall in Texas, because Texans did such a good job back in March and April on getting that curve down, we did acquire quite a few beds and quite a few ventilators. And so, most of the areas of Texas are still good on that. We've got some spots that aren't doing quite as well, but they're trying to work hard on getting more beds available and it sounds like we have plenty of ventilators for the patients if it does get worse."
de Leon: "But if it does get worse, how close could we be to actually seeing a real issue with hospitals, with really a majority of the hospitals in Texas?"
Dr. Fite: "It's hard to say because it kind of differs from region to region. Some places are getting to where you might hear that they're going to be very short within a week or two. But those same hospitals are making plans to open up more beds for COVID patients if that is the case. So, it sounds like we still have [the] capacity for quite a few more patients if necessary."
de Leon: "In a press conference yesterday [June 22], Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said closing back down would be a last resort. Do you agree with him on that? Would closing down again help at this point, or are things too far along now?"
Dr. Fite: "Well, we certainly understand the problems with closing down the economy. That's not good either. But we also don't want a lot more patients, and we want to be sure we have enough bed capacity. So, we just want to stress to please have everybody take this seriously. Socially distance. Don't go out if you don't need to. There's really no need to expose yourself or other people. And definitely wear masks, even though we hear that they may not be as effective. Because the virus can get through a mask or around the mask, but overall, it slows down the transmission of the disease and makes it a little less likely to happen. So, we want people to follow those rules and things will be better."
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