The mayors of Houston and Austin say their hospitals will be overwhelmed within 2 weeks if the coronavirus isn’t brought under control

  • The mayors of Houston and Austin – two of the largest cities in Texas – have issued nearly identical, urgent warnings about the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak in their state.
  • If the virus isn’t brought under control, hospitals will be overwhelmed within two weeks, they said.
  • Texas is experiencing one of the worst resurgences of COVID-19 in the US, with a 30% increase in cases last week. The state has seen more than 200,000 cases in total.
  • In light of the resurgence, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott paused the state’s reopening plan and imposed a mandatory face-covering order.
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The mayors of two of the largest cities in Texas have warned that their hospitals will soon be in crisis if the coronavirus outbreak is not brought under control.

As the state faces one of the nation’s biggest resurgences in the virus, Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston told CBS News’ “Face The Nation” Sunday that hospitals could be in “serious, serious trouble” within the next two weeks.

“I mean, overwhelmed,” he said.

His comments mirrored those of Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, who on Saturday told CNN’s “State of the Union”: “The trajectory we’re on for new hospitalizations have us inundating our hospitals in about two weeks.”

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Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston. Ismael Francisco/Cubadebate/AP

Texas has recorded nearly 200,000 cases of the coronavirus in total, with almost 3,500 new cases reported on Sunday, according to The Guardian’s coronavirus tracker.

The state also saw a 30% increase in cases in the last week alone, according to the tracker.

Explaining the hospital problem, Mayor Turner of Houston told CBS News: “The number of people who are getting sick and going to the hospital has exponentially increased.”

“The number of people in our ICU beds has exponentially increased.”

The issue hospitals face, he said, is not so much the number of available beds, but having enough staff to tend to patients.

The situation is a marked contrast to that described by President Donald Trump, who during his Fourth of July speech said that 99% of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

Adler told CNN this was a “dangerous” message, according to The Guardian. “We have the Fourth of July weekend and we need everybody wearing masks.

“And when they start hearing that kind of ambiguous message coming out of Washington, there are more and more people that won’t wear masks, that won’t social distance, that won’t do what it takes to keep a community safe.”

Both Turner and Adler are Democrats.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Dallas on May 4, 2018. Sue Ogrocki/AP

In response to the surge in cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, paused the state’s reopening plan on June 25 and imposed a mandatory face-covering order on July 2.

Mayors in several counties, including Turner, have recently called on Abbott to give them the power to impose stay-at-home orders, which they had until the governor’s statewide directive overrode them in early April, The Texas Tribune reported.

Abbott’s statewide shelter-in-place order expired at the end of April, when almost all nonessential businesses began to reopen, albeit with some restrictions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Adler said that he would have reopened Texas later, after more testing and tracing, and in slower phases.

He said the “big lesson” for Texas was in how to open up the economy, with “creative” ways of keeping bars and restaurants open.

“We have to be more creative, and we’re probably going to have to do that until there’s a vaccine,” he said.