Texas hits new record high of virus hospitalizations & cases as state officials urge quick vaccinations
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas hit a new record of Covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, with more people now hospitalized for the virus than at any other time during the pandemic.
It comes as the state continues to slowly give its first round of vaccines. State health officials reported Texas has received nearly 612,000 vaccine doses so far, but only 163,700 people have received the first of two shots.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s top health official urged vaccine providers not to hold any doses in reserve and to distribute them as quickly as possible as the state with deals with record-breaking numbers of virus patients in hospitals and new cases.
Texas reported Tuesday that 11,775 people across the state were hospitalized for the virus. The current mark is an increase of nearly 3,000 more patients since the end of November.
The state also reported a record high 26,990 newly-confirmed cases and noted 241 newly reported deaths on Tuesday.
Texas’ seven-day average rate for tests that come back as confirmed coronavirus cases has exceeded 15% for a week, surpassing “red flag” levels.
Texas is also nearing 27,000 virus-related deaths to date, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, which has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid-19. That death count is the second highest in the country overall.
In separate statements on Tuesday, Abbott and state health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt suggested that some hospitals are not moving fast enough in distributing the Covid-19 vaccine to the first rounds of eligible patients.
“A significant portion of vaccines distributed across Texas might be sitting on hospital shelves as opposed to being given to vulnerable Texans. The state urges vaccine providers to quickly provide all shots. We get plenty more each week,” Abbott indicated.
Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Department of State Health Services, was more direct in his statement.
“All providers that have received Covid-19 vaccine must immediately vaccinate healthcare workers, Texans over the age of 65, and people with medical conditions that put them at a greater risk of severe disease or death from Covid-19,” he said. “No vaccine should be kept in reserve.”
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