Surging infection rates have thrown Texas cities into crisis mode ahead of the July Fourth weekend. The state has recorded more than 174,000 cases and at least 2,500 deaths, according to a New York Times database. More than 8,000 new cases were announced across Texas on Wednesday, surpassing the previous daily record set on Tuesday.
With some hospitals near capacity, officials have been forced to bring in health care reinforcements from out of state. Ambulances in Houston have been waiting up to an hour to unload patients at emergency rooms, officials said.
“The cases continue to increase in a manner that we just cannot sustain,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim medical director of the Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “Cases are skyrocketing across the state of Texas.”
In Galveston, city officials announced the closure of beaches for the July Fourth weekend. Organizers announced the cancellation of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, describing the move as the only “responsible solution.” This year’s South by Southwest, the city’s internationally acclaimed film, music and interactive conference, was canceled in March.
The Texas Republican Executive Committee will meet Thursday night to consider shifting its in-person state convention in July to a virtual event, said the state party chairman, James Dickey. The Texas Medical Association has called for cancellation of the Houston event, which could draw 4,000 to 6,000 delegates.
Texas moved swiftly to reopen, but as cases surged, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” when it comes to the state’s handling of the pandemic.
Mr. Patrick made the comments in an interview with Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host, after Dr. Fauci told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that some states were moving “too quickly and skipping over some of the checkpoints.”