Texas Cities Could See Brazil-Like COVID-19 Surge

Texas’ Dr. Peter Hotez says masks will not be enough to combat rising COVID-19 cases.

By Michael MarksJune 24, 2020 12:17 pm,

Texas’ leading health expert on infectious diseases said Wednesday that Gov. Greg Abbott has to step up restrictions on individuals no later than this week because the number of hospitalizations are rising so quickly.

Masks are a good first step but masks alone will not be enough Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine told the Texas Standard.

As of Wednesday, more than 4,000 Texans are hospitalized with COVID-19 and more than 2,220 have died so far.

Hotez said Abbott needs to be looking at some of the epidemiological studies coming out of policy labs like the University of Pennsylvania, and considering tougher stay-at-home orders.

“I don’t want to speak for the governor, but he’s got to do some component of that, and he has to do it by this week,” Hotez said. “He can’t wait until next week because every passing day it gets harder and harder to put this back in the bottle.”

If this trajectory keeps going, Hotez said, “Houston would become the worst affected city in the U.S., maybe rival what we’re seeing now in Brazil.”

Houston has the largest hospital bed capacity in the state, with roughly 2,600, and 2,800 ICU beds, Hotez said. “Right now we’re at half capacity. But at this trajectory we fill up in two weeks.”

And if this trajectory keeps going, Hotez said, “Houston would become the worst affected city in the U.S., maybe rival what we’re seeing now in Brazil.”

Texas’ sudden rise comes as the state has allowed businesses to reopen.

Hotez began raising the alarm last weekend with a passionate tweet, warning how the number of coronavirus cases was shooting up in Texas.

“In Texas, we’re still bickering whether or not to wear face masks. And I’m like, really?,” Hotez said. “We should have had that, you know, two weeks ago. And you look at the trajectory this morning, if we continue on that trajectory we will definitely be like a city in Brazil, and we will be the worst affected city in the country.”

The number of COVID-19 positive cases is rising so fast in large Texas metro areas like Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio that masks will not be enough.

“I don’t see how the numbers start going down with just masks alone,” Hotez said. “And we’re going to have to take additional steps at some level of reimplementing social distancing.”

The goal now is to stop the increased need for ICU beds, he said. And to do that: “We’ve got to do more than simply put on face masks.”

Web story by Terri Langford.

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