June 25, 2020
Coronavirus Burns Out of Control in Texas
with Records Falling Like Tenpins in Cities
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
Texas boiled in coronavirus infections on Thursday as the state set the single-day high for new cases for the seventh time in 10 days but managed to stay under the 6,000 mark with the help of a prison accounting eraser.
While Governor Greg Abbott put the reopening on hold as the epicenter of the nation's second major outbreak, he could do nothing about the record destruction COVID-19 surge that's had a higher Texas infection tally in the past three days than it had in the pandemic's first six weeks.
The state recorded 5,996 new cases between Wednesday and Thursday afternoons - pushing the total count for the past three days to a frightening 17,036. The daily infection increase was 139 percent higher than it had been on June 10 at 2,504.
The nation had a record number of new infections on Thursday as well with more than 37,000. The virus surged to new highs in the three largest states - California, Texas and Florida in moves that prompted them to suspend reopenings temporarily.
Case counts crushed records in the suburbs that revolve on the Dallas-Fort Worth area with single-day high marks in Denton, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis, Johnson and Parker counties. The outer links of the Houston area chain were ablaze with records replaced in Montgomery and Galveston counties. The virus hit a new daily high in suburban Williamson County on the northern edge Austin while raging to records in the Rio Grande Valley, the Corpus Christi and Waco areas and parts of west and central Texas with all-time spikes in Bell and Ector counties as well. El Paso, Lubbock, Smith and Tarrant counties all had their second highest infection counts as the virus ran up the numbers in all of the state's largest cities and some scattered rural areas on Thursday.
The coronavirus didn't just set records today - it demolished them in the DFW area's outer suburban extremities with daily infection counts that were three to four times higher than the marks that fell.
Hidalgo County had its record from Wednesday ripped up when it posted 373 new coronavirus infections today after recording a pandemic-high 248 the previous day. Cameron County had the daily record fall for the 12th day in a row not counting Sundays when reporting is lax.
Nueces County was cooking with 215 new confirmed cases after setting a record on Tuesday with 109. The record went down in McLennan County for the third time in five days while Tarrant, El Paso, Lubbock and Smith counties posted their second highest daily caseloads since the initial virus invasion four months ago.
The state is depending heavily on the ability of hospitals and doctors here to absorb an incoming tsunami of coronavirus patients. Testing appears to be the only real weapon that Abbott has as the sole pandemic commander who's promised to increase it dramatically despite President Donald Trump's newfound opposition to coronavirus tests for anyone who isn't obviously sick.
But a weeklong boost in testing across Texas is still meager in comparison to the rest of the nation as the state that ranks 42nd in that regard. The Texas testing positivity rate has been going in the wrong direction at 11.3 percent - the fifth worst in the nation.
Abbott is going to do his best to avoid a significant retreat from a reopening that's fueled the virus spiking and young people who've ignored safety protocols and quit wearing masks accounting for a substantially higher share of the cases than they had in the first round.
But the governor finds himself in a monumental pressure cooker facing decisions that could have consequences of monumental magnitude for the Texas economy, politics, government and the business and social worlds. The calls that Abbott has to make will be life-and-death decisions that have career-wrecking potential and could accelerate a Texas conversion to blue at the polls this fall.
The hospitals here have been running dangerously low in intensive care beds for COVID-19 cases while the Texas Medical Center shuffles patients through its vast system to expand the capacity of an ICU that was filled to the brim on Thursday night.
Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Arkansas and Utah have been the new wave destination states after slamming New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Louisiana and Michigan in the opening surge.