TEXAS — It’s a sobering statistic as the new school year quickly approaches. Only two states, Florida and California, are currently reporting more new COVID-19 cases per day than Texas.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that on Wednesday alone the state added 3,621 new confirmed cases of the virus, 1,435 new probable cases and 33 new fatalities. On top of that, 3,566 Texans are currently being treated for the virus in hospitals.
In addition, Texas has surpassed a COVID-19 testing positivity rate of 10%. The Austin-Travis County region is teetering on Stage 4 risk-based COVID-19 guidelines. Williamson County is reporting “uncontrolled community spread” of the virus.
The latest numbers are nowhere near the roughly 14,000 new cases Texas was reporting during the zenith of the pandemic but they are troubling.
The uptick is being fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Houston Methodist Hospital, which on Monday reported the first case of the lambda variant in Texas, is reporting that the delta variant currently comprises the vast majority of its COVID-19 cases.
"Delta is 85% here at Houston Methodist now, and we know it’s highly contagious. So, the massive spike in Delta, severe infections and hospitalizations is what’s cause for concern right now and vaccination is our best defense," Houston Methodist spokeswoman and science editor Lisa Merkl said.
Speaking to a Houston TV station this week, Gov. Greg Abbott said that despite the uptick in cases, he will not impose another statewide mask mandate. He said it would be “inappropriate” to require people who have acquired immunity through vaccination or from having had the virus to wear a mask. It’s a stance Austin Mayor Steve Adler took issue with, writing on Twitter, “It is dangerous and untrue for @GovAbbott to say it’s ‘inappropriate’ to require vaccinated people to wear masks. The Delta variant has changed things.”