Texas reports record number of new coronavirus cases, extends ban on elective surgeries

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Doctors and nurses wearing protective gear treat a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Monday, June 29, 2020.

Go Nakamura | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Texas reported more than 6,900 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, a record daily increase that brings the state’s total to nearly 160,000 cases, according to the state’s department of health. 

The department also reported that 6,533 people are in the hospital with Covid-19, another record. Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott suspended elective surgeries in Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Webb counties to ensure hospital bed availability for Covid-19 patients.

Eight counties in Texas now have been ordered to postpone elective procedures. On June 25, Abbott suspended the procedures in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties, which include the state’s largest cities: San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin, respectively.

“We need to understand that Covid-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” Abbott said Sunday while appearing with Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force. 

A rise in daily reported new Covid-19 cases could reflect an increase in testing in certain locations or a lag in reporting, officials say. However, Texas’ seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases increased by more than 41% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Texas’ positivity rate, or the percentage of total tests that are positive, just one month ago was at 4.27% but is now well over 13%, Abbott said. He has previously said a positivity rate of more than 10% would be an “alarm bell” for Texas to take tougher action and prevent further spread. 

On Tuesday, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said about 50% of all new cases are coming from four states: Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

“I’m very concerned, and I’m not satisfied with what’s going on because we’re going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases, so we really have got to do something about that, and we need to do it quickly,” Fauci said during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. 

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