Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says there is an "abundant number of hospital beds" in the state despite a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations.
There are 14,993 available hospital beds statewide, or about 27% of the total number of beds. State health officials say that's double the amount in early March when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Texas.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there are 3,382 available hospital beds, or 24% of the total local beds.
Abbott said the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state "does raise concerns," but said "there is no reason to be alarmed."
"We have plenty of room to expand beds. There are thousands of hospital beds," the governor said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
There are now at least 2,518 people currently hospitalized across Texas with COVID-19, the highest number the state has seen since the pandemic began. That number jumped up by about 200 more people from Monday's statewide report.
State health officials said that typically less than 10% of total statewide hospitalizations are due to COVID-19 on a daily basis.
Across North Texas, around 765 people infected with the coronavirus are currently hospitalized, according to state officials, a new record high for the region as well.
The Harris County area has 795 hospitalized coronavirus patients – the largest number in the state.
Hospitalizations are up 67% statewide and 48% regionally since Memorial Day.
Stop the spread
Abbott said many of the new positive coronavirus tests are among people under the age of 30, who may have contracted the disease from "going to bar-type settings."
The governor lifted statewide stay-at-home orders at the end of May, and businesses have been steadily opening for more than a month. Restaurants were allowed to expand capacity Friday to 75% occupancy.
Bars and other entertainment venues have been allowed to reopen.
But, Abbott said Tuesday, people should still be practicing good hygiene and should be wearing masks.
The governor has not required that Texans wear facial coverings.
He said that "everyone now knows to make smart decisions."
"Stay at home. If you do not need to get out, the best advice is still to stay at home," Abbott said.
He encouraged people to follow three guidelines to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus:
- Wear a mask
- Frequently wash hands and use hand sanitizer
- Maintain safe physical distancing, ideally 6 feet away from others
Dallas County hospitalizations
Across Texas, there have been more than 89,000 cases of COVID-19 since tracking began in March, with more than 29,000 in North Texas.
And many of the D-FW area hospitalizations are in Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted Monday night.
About 400 people are currently receiving treatment for the disease, according to Jenkins, the highest number since the pandemic began.
"Think of hospitalizations as the tip of the iceberg you see and know there are a lot more undiagnosed cases in the community," Jenkins said.
The Dallas County judge has said he would like more local control to implement requirements to stop the spread of the disease, but Abbott's orders supersede any local orders.
"Putting people in jail is the wrong approach and that's exactly what I think the Dallas County judge wants to do," Abbott said Tuesday. "Jenkins hasn't lifted a finger to use other tools of enforcement."
The governor did not clarify what other enforcement local authorities are authorized to take. He referenced local leaders can ensure that there aren't large gatherings.