Massive jump in Texas COVID-19 cases
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Texas reported 1,801 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday — the biggest single-day jump in cases since the pandemic began.
A growing outbreak in the Texas Panhandle is a big reason for the surge in cases. More than 700 new cases were reported out of Amarillo on Saturday with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warning those numbers will continue to climb as the state increases testing in that hot spot.
Before Saturday, Texas never reported more than 1,500 cases in a single day and had been averaging 1,227 cases per day over the last seven days.
Moments after the new numbers were released, Abbott released a statement saying surge response teams sent to Amarillo earlier this month are testing more people and identifying more people in the Texas Panhandle as they try to contain the outbreak.
“That is exactly why I established Surge Response Teams,” Abbott said. “By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high-risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo.”
Officials in Amarillo have traced a surge in cases to the region’s meatpacking industry. City officials told the Amarillo Globe-News that many of the tests were focused on a Tyson Foods meat packing plant near Amarillo.
The surge in positive cases comes at the same time Texas has seen a spike in deaths over the last three days. The state reported 33 more deaths on Saturday, bringing the three-day total to 147 — the worst three days since the pandemic began. On Thursday the state reported 58 deaths — the highest single-day increase in deaths in one day in Texas during the fight against COVID-19.
While the positive numbers and deaths are increasing, Abbott has consistently stressed the state’s death rate is far below most other states and the state still has plenty of hospital beds and ventilators available. Texas has 1,791 people hospitalized and has more than 17,000 available beds still.
Overall, Texas has reported 1,305 deaths. Other big states have had far more. In California 3,204 people have died and in New York 22,478.
Abbott has been trying to re-open the state’s economy. On May 1, Abbott allowed restaurants, malls, movie theaters and retail stores to open up at 25 percent capacity with social distancing guidelines in place. He followed that with opening hair salons and barbershops on May 8. On Monday, Abbott was expected to announce whether restaurants, malls, theaters and retail stores could go to 50 percent capacity.