Coronavirus

State health officials reported over 8,000 new cases of COVID-19 and more than 6,900 hospitalizations Wednesday, unprecedented figures that came a day after Gov. Greg Abbott suspended elective surgeries at hospitals in four South Texas counties.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 8,076 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, up from Tuesday's record of 6,975 cases. Texas hospitals had 6,904 lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients, up from a prior-day record of 6,533. 

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the COVID-19 virus without feeling sick.

State health officials also reported 57 new coronavirus-related fatalities Wednesday, bringing the death toll of the virus in the state to 2,481.

State and local officials are racing to rein in those numbers. Abbott shifted his tone last week after weeks of gradually reopening sectors of the economy. He warned of a “massive outbreak” last week, days before closing Texas bars and reducing restaurant dining room capacity.

In a series of local TV interviews Tuesday evening, Abbott said he couldn’t predict when the state could reverse its latest restrictions.

WALKER COUNTY OUTBREAK

Walker County is in the midst of the COVID-19 spike, as officials with the local office of emergency management announced 34 new community cases, bringing the county’s total to 499 on Wednesday. The county has nearly doubled its community cases within the last two weeks.

Nearly 62% of the confirmed community cases within the county remain active. Also, over 35% of the total confirmed cases are amongst citizens in their 20s, while nearly 30% are from those between the ages of 40 and 60, emergency officials noted.

The city of Huntsville is at the epicenter of the outbreak within Walker County, accounting for at least 57% of the total cases.

The next date for free community testing is scheduled for July 8 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Walker County Fairgrounds. Symptoms do not have to be present to test, however, you must pre-register at www.txcovidtest.org or call (512)883-2400. A valid ID is required at the test site.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.