Exactly two weeks after reopening for business, Texas reports highest COVID-19 death toll to date

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Every health official thought it was a horrendous idea to reopen the state of Texas before it met the recommended benchmarks for declining COVID-19 cases and increased testing and contact tracing, warning that it would only lead to further spread of the virus and an increased number of deaths.

Republican Governor Greg Abbott ignored the warnings and gave the orders to begin reopening anyway in an effort to limit the economic damage to his state and ignoring the greater long-term damage that his decision could cause.

Now the diseased chickens are coming home to roost with Texas reporting a not-unexpected jump in fatalities just two weeks after lifting many of the restrictions that had people staying in their homes and businesses shuttered.

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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Texas reached a new single-day high for the number of deaths reported due to coronavirus on Thursday, with a total of 116 deaths over a three-day period, another unfortunate record.

Now, the Lone Star state has a confirmed total of 43,851 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, including 24,487 recoveries, 1,216 deaths, and more than 18,000 active cases in the state.

At least part of the increase in reported cases can be attributed to the increased availability of the testing in the state which Governor Abbott tried to stress in a transparent effort to distract from the increased casualties by which his reopening plans have been closely followed.

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“The last two days have set all-time records for the amount of people tested in Texas,” Abbott told KRIV/Fox 26 in Houston.

The increased testing, however, has not led to a decrease in COVID-19 deaths and the governor is now considering plans to open additional businesses, including bars, as soon as tomorrow.

“We’ve got some fantastic strategies provided by bars that would lead to ways of separating people that would be able to create distancing strategies that we are running by our medical team, and hopefully we will be able to make an announcement on Monday about this,” Abbott said.

Abbot naturally tried to focus on hospitalization rates and a downward trend in the increase of cases rather than the increase in deaths.

“What we look at is the real data about what’s taking place, and here’s the fact: The fact is that the growth rate of COVID-19 in the state of Texas is leveling off,” the governor said. “The fact is that hospitalizations, for example, they’re 28 fewer today than they were yesterday and yesterday they were lower than the day before.

“The fact of the matter is, hospitalizations in the state of Texas has stayed relatively flat during this entire time.”

Still, the recommended guidelines for reopening require declining cases and hospitalizations and relaxing restrictions prematurely is unlikely to make the infection rate go down. Flat rates of hospitalization just don’t cut it when it comes to public health measures.

Hopefully, Texans who care about their own health and that of others will do the sensible thing and stay home as much as possible and wear masks and maintain social distancing when they absolutely have to leave their homes.
If there’s ever been a time to question the motivations of politicians trying to restart state economies, now is it.
Like the Fox News hosts who from the comfort of their home studios urge their viewers to return to work and risk their lives, politicians don’t face the same workplace risks that grocery store workers and people toiling in meatpacking plants do.
Ask yourself, are you willing to take the risks that these people won’t take themselves?

Original reporting by Stefan Stevenson and Tessa Weinberg at The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Vinnie Longobardo

Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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