SAN ANTONIO – Texas was neck and neck with California as the state with the most confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, the latest NBC News figures showed on Monday.
The Lone Star State had reported 910,124 cases since the start of the pandemic while California, which had led the country into this dismal category for months, had 909,161, according to the tally.
While the numbers were fluid and it was still possible for California to regain the lead, the number of new cases in Texas has increased at a rate of 19% in the past two weeks, compared to 15% in California.
But if Texas were an independent country, it would rank ninth in the world for the total number of cases – just ahead of its southern neighbor Mexico, which has 891,160, according to the Covid-19 dashboard of the Johns Hopkins University.
The disturbing development comes with Election Day just over a week away and with Texas, a once reliable Republican stronghold, suddenly on the line with the latest polls showing President Donald Trump only has a small lead on his challenger Joe Biden.
Trump, whose re-election chances have been jeopardized by his administration’s much-criticized response to the crisis that has infected 8.7 million people in the United States and killed more than 226,000 people, has previously said he won’t not planning to campaign in the state this week.
In other coronavirus news:
- Democrats urged Vice President Mike Pence not to attend the Supreme Court’s confirmation vote for Amy Coney Barrett after five of her aides, including her chief of staff and senior policy adviser, tested positive for Covid -19. Pence, who tested negative, was not to preside over Barrett’s confirmation, his spokesperson later confirmed.
- The White House announced that face masks would be required at Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony and that anyone “close” to Trump, who has recovered from his Covid-19 infection, will be tested in advance, a confirmed NBC News. There were no such requirements at the Rose Garden party last month to feature Barrett, which then turned into a “big-ticket event.”
- Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist and a frequent Trump target, wrote in a JAMA editorial that people should wear masks while talking. “Respiratory droplets are produced not only by coughing and sneezing, but also when speaking and simply breathing,” he wrote. “Therefore, the commonly observed practice of individuals removing their masks when speaking is not recommended. “
- In Europe, which has been hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases, France has recorded a record 52,010 new infections in the past 24 hours and Spain has declared a new state of emergency to try to curb its increasing numbers of Covid-19.
- Colombia topped one million confirmed cases of the coronavirus over the weekend, becoming the last Latin American country to report that number in less than a week. Argentina reached that dark threshold earlier. Brazil is in third place after the United States and India with 5.4 million cases.
- Shares fell sharply on Wall Street as hopes of a new wave of tax assistance to help the millions of Americans left out of jobs by the pandemic faded.
- Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 190,000 health workers have fallen with a case of Covid-19 and 767 have died, according to a new report from the federal states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a flurry of early morning tweets, Trump once again wrongly insisted on Monday that more testing is the reason for the dramatic increase in new cases.
He also rejected on Sunday the admission of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that the Trump administration would not be able to “control the pandemic”.
And, as he has done since the first U.S. cases were reported in February, Trump has continued to contradict public health experts and once again insisted on an end to the crisis.
“We’re doing a great job, we’re absolutely turning the corner,” Trump said on his way to a campaign stop in Pennsylvania.
White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern made this point in an interview with Fox News.
“People are not dying from this disease almost at the rate they used to be,” said Morgenstern. “We know how to isolate vulnerable people. We know how to treat people, often on an outpatient basis. And so, the risks are simply not what they used to be.
It was a different story in El Paso, Texas, where there was a 200% increase in hospitalizations, where the convention center was turned into a field hospital, and residents were urged to stay at home for. the next two weeks.
“If we continue on this trend, we risk adverse effects on our entire health system,” said the city’s director of public health, Angela Mora. “For the sake of those hospitalized and frontline healthcare workers who work tirelessly every day to care for them, we ask that you stay home for two weeks and eliminate your interactions with people outside your home. focus until we can flatten the curve.
Dr Armando Meza, who works at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, said that while the city had spikes in cases early on, they felt they largely dodged the pandemic bullet. He said they had spent much of the summer counseling medical professionals across the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
“The dynamics have completely changed,” Meza told NBC News. “I hope with the curfew in place, if we can stop this, I think this is going to be an important lesson for the community, for all of us, we must never let our guard down and be careful.
Health worker Angelica Martinez lost her 67-year-old sister-in-law at the end of August to Covid-19. She told NBC News that seeing El Paso hospitals teeming with coronavirus patients filled her with a jumble of emotions.
“It’s part of a feeling of sadness, part of fear, part of a feeling of empathy for my former colleagues in the healthcare community,” she said. “They are criticized.”
Martinez, who is a former chief executive of a multi-specialist doctor’s office, said she knew at least 10 other people with Covid-19 and said she was stunned people still insist on getting together, not not wear masks and go out.
“I want to go out too,” Martinez said. “My family is used to meeting at my house on Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “But I’m not going to break basic public health protocols just to indulge in this behavior. . ”
On the ground in Houston, doctors were bracing for a new wave of new cases.
“We’re seeing a slow and steady increase across the city,” Dr. Linda Yancey, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Hospital, told the Houston Chronicle. “This is probably due to a combination of factors. First of all, the cold is finally starting to hit and force people to be indoors more often. We know that this virus spreads very easily in indoor spaces. Restaurants are starting to open. more, and these are great places to spread the virus. ”
Texas is one of 42 states (plus Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands) across the United States that have seen a worrying increase in coronavirus cases in the past 14 days, according to NBC statistics News.
It is also one of the states that began lifting the lockdown in May, at Trump’s request and to the dismay of public health experts, just as Covid-19 was reaching its peak in the south and the Sun. Belt.
Most of the cases in Texas – and the 18,020 deaths – were reported after the state was reopened by Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican ally and Trump, according to statistics from NBC News.
He has since reimposed some restrictions on bars and restaurants to tame the pandemic while continuing to reopen schools and other sectors of the economy.
In July, faced with an increase in the number of new cases, Abbott reluctantly turned the tide and issued an order that requires “all Texans to wear face masks over their noses and mouths in public spaces in counties with Canada. at least 20 positive Covid-19 cases. ”
Texas had an 8.87% positive Covid-19 test rate on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins tabulators. In contrast, California was 3.43 percent.
The World Health Organization advises governments to maintain a test positivity rate of 5% or less for 14 days before reopening.
Gamboa reported from San Antonio, Chiwaya from New York and Siemaszko from Montclair, New Jersey.