June 18, 2020

Texas is one of the many states where the spread of the coronavirus is getting worse, but the governor is only mildly concerned:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday urged people to stay home as the state registered the highest number of new hospitalizations due to the coronavirus, marking the fifth consecutive day of rising hospitalizations.

Abbott reported that 2,622 people tested positive on Tuesday for the coronavirus, a new daily record for the Lone Star State. The prior record had been set on June 10, when 2,504 tested positive.

The state’s Health and Human Services Department also reported that 2,518 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients are currently in Texas hospitals, up from 2,326 on Monday. Hospitalizations have been on a steady upward trend since May 25, when about 1,500 were hospitalized.

“If you do not need to go out, the best advice is still to stay at home,” Abbott said at a press conference in Austin.

But while Abbott says you shouldn't go out unless it's necessary, his reopening policy is saying, "Go out! Go out!"

Abbott announced on June 3 that the state would enter its third phase of reopening, allowing restaurants to use 75 percent of their capacity and allowing most businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity or more.

In some communities, there's concern that the reopening needs to be slowed down.

Local officials in Travis County, which includes the state capital of Austin, have extended stay-at-home orders in recent days in response to the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The “Stay Home, Work Safe” order that was set to expire on June 15 has been extended to Aug. 15.

But there are limits to what local governments can do.

Reopened businesses [in Austin and Travis County] “are strongly encouraged” to operate their indoor spaces at 25% capacity or less and to provide services that promote physical distancing, like curbside pickup, according to the Austin order. But these orders can’t be enforced because Gov. Greg Abbott has allowed Texas restaurants to operate at 75% capacity and other businesses to operate at 50% capacity.

... And as he announced ... reopening plans, he issued a new order that overruled any local governments’ mandates that certain businesses stay closed or that people not wearing masks in public could be fined or penalized.

Apparently, the governor doesn't care how many people get sick in his state, at least as long as there are enough hospital beds to accommodate the critically ill and dying.

Abbott on Tuesday stressed that the Texas medical system has more than enough capacity to deal with the surge in hospitalizations.

Texas has reported 14,993 available hospital beds, a 78 percent increase since mid-March.

Abbott said there is only one county in the state where 10 percent of hospital beds are taken up by COVID-19 patients. The average statewide is 6.3 percent, Abbott said....

“The increased occupancy of hospital beds, it does raise concerns, but as shown today, there is no reason right now to be alarmed,” Abbott added. “Even though there are more people hospitalized, we still remain at the lowest threat level [for occupancy].”

So who cares if infections and hospitalizations are increasing unchecked?

I know that the primary purpose of all the public health measures in this pandemic has been to prevent the healthcare system from being dangerously overloaded. But should we just shrug off the spread of the virus if the hospital bed occupancy level is tolerable?

Apparently, Texas believes we should -- the economy is much more important than citizens' health. You're admonished to take care of yourself, even as you're told that the state is open for bidness at near capacity.

And so the virus will spread nearly unchecked through much of Texas and the rest of red America. We'll see how bad that gets.

Posted with permission from No More Mr. Nice Blog

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