COVID-19 Surge Slowed In Large Texas Cities, Growing in Smaller Ones

Smaller cities may be more lax about masks, social distancing. They’re now seeing bigger COVID-19 surges.

By Jill Ament & Terri LangfordNovember 6, 2020 1:15 pm,

Large cities in Texas that saw earlier coronavirus surges are better equipped now during this latest rise statewide. But smaller ones like El Paso, are getting “hammered,” according to one Houston doctor.

“If you look at smaller communities and if you look in particular at the border towns of Texas, we’re seeing impressive growth,” said Dr. James McDevitt, senior vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine. “El Paso is just getting hammered and their hospitals are getting overrun and they’re looking and feeling much like we did in in July.

“So this seems to be across the nation a rural phenomenon rather than a than a city phenomena,” he said.

Because Houston was hardest hit earlier this year, it has been able to slow the growth of the coronavirus there.

“Part of this have to do with experience and knowing how to respond in the first place,” McDevitt said. “Fundamentally, I think the single biggest reason is that – pardon the expression – but in Houston in July we had a near-death experience. We were really frightened. We had a lot of the virus. It was overwhelming our hospitals.”

And residents in larger cities became bigger believers in wearing masks and socially distancing after the summer’s large COVID-19 surge, McDevitt said.

“There are enough people in the cities now that have bought into the religion of ‘I need to wear my mask. I need to maintain appropriate physical distancing,’ ” he said. “I think smaller communities that didn’t see that and didn’t know anybody with the virus and it didn’t feel real. They probably have not engage in those practices in the same way.”

And after going for several months in a row without a big surge, some Texans became complacent about the virus.

“I think complacency is the biggest problem we face as a nation,” McDevitt said.” And fundamentally, I mean, why are things getting better? Things have gotten better because we mask. We distance that there’s nothing fundamentally has changed about the virus. It is just as infectious it ever was.”

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