TEXAS — Wednesday’s COVID-19 numbers for Texas are staggering and disheartening. The state health department reported 19,003 new cases of the virus, 15,558 of which are confirmed and 3,445 of which are probable.
The state additionally reported 60 new deaths attributed to the disease.
At total of 7,685 Texans are currently hospitalized with the virus.
It’s now believed that roughly 75% of COVID cases in Texas are due to the delta variant.
Large swaths of Texas are now identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as areas of high transmission, including the entirety of North Texas.
The numbers come as Gov. Greg Abbott continues to resist protections via mask and vaccine mandates. The governor last week issued a new executive order solidifying his stance.
Meanwhile, the start of the new school year is right around the corner and there is deep concern that schools will be a vector for spread, in particular because a vaccine has yet to be approved for children under 12.
State Democrats and leaders, including El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, have called on Gov. Abbott to reverse his stance and permit school districts to mandate mask usage on campuses.
In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner has defied Abbott and is requiring all city workers to wear masks.
Gov. Abbott has repeatedly stated that mask usage and vaccination should be an individual choice, regardless of how many other people are affected by those choices.
That stance has set up something of a war of words between Abbott and President Joe Biden. During a briefing on Monday the president called out Abbott and other Republican governors.
"I say to these governors: Please help," Biden said. "But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way. The people are trying to do the right thing," he added. "Use your power to save lives."
"Worst of all, some state officials are passing laws or signing orders that forbid people from doing the right thing," Biden said. "As of now, seven states not only banned mask mandates, but also banned them in their school districts, even for young children who cannot get vaccinated."
On Monday, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Texas and Florida are currently accounting for one-third of the country’s new cases of COVID-19.
"Florida and Texas account for one-third of all new COVID-19 cases in the entire country," Biden said. "Just two states. Look, we need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren't willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it."
On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fired back at the president: "Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID."
DeSantis used the opportunity to criticize Biden's border policies, blaming the surge in cases on migrants: "Why don’t you do your job? Why don't you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t wanna hear a blip about COVID from you, thank you."
There is no evidence that migrants at the border are having a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19.