COVID-19 Cases in Texas

COVID-19+Cases+in+Texas

Victoria Rademacher

As of mid-November, Texas became the first state to have a total of over one million cases of COVID-19. This number means Texas had more cases than all, except nine, countries, with the state making up about 10% of U.S. cases. While there have been dramatic increases in cases and deaths statewide, El Paso, a hot spot for the virus with 222 cases per 100,000 people in November, has become particularly overwhelmed with cases and deaths. Many mobile morgues have been established, and low-level offenders from the county jail have been used to staff them. Despite the high rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has ruled out any statewide restrictions on businesses and has rejected the idea of another lockdown following the April stay-at-home order because of associated medical and financial consequences. In October, Abbott allowed for bars to reopen if approved by local governments and had a maximum 75% capacity. He also permitted stricter limits on businesses only when 15% of hospital beds in a region consisted of COVID-19 patients. Restaurants could still operate at 50% capacity, so any bars remaining under a shutdown could use the loophole of classifying as a restaurant to escape restrictions. Abbott has urged everyone to continue staying home when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing as people have done to make it through the spike in July while waiting for treatments and vaccines for the general public.

A “pandemic fatigue” has been noticed and experienced in many places, including Texas. Mask mandates have always had resistance, especially in rural areas, but recently people have been relaxing precautions, social distancing less, and wearing masks less or wearing masks incorrectly compared to July. People want their regular lives back, and the importance of being cautious on an individual level is continuing to be forgotten or less valued. This, along with other factors, including holiday gatherings,  could rapidly spread the virus through extended families, leaves uncertainty as to how the COVID-19 rates will play out long-term.