Texas Sees 165 Percent Increase in COVID Cases Over 2 Weeks, Straining Hospital Capacity

Texas saw a 165 percent increase in COVID-19 cases on a rolling two-week daily average, straining the state's hospital capacity, the Associated Press reported.

The Johns Hopkins University research data reported 8,533 COVID-19 cases in the state. Roughly 45 percent of Texas' population was fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

A county-owned hospital in Houston had to start pitching tents for their COVID-19 patient overflow. Officials of Houston hospitals announced last week that their hospitals had insufficient beds and nurses in order to serve the overwhelming number of patients.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Texas Hospitals Overflowing with COVID Patients
The state of Texas saw a 165 percent increase over a two-week period in coronavirus cases. Healthcare workers move a patient in the COVID-19 Unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. Mark Felix/Getty Images

Governor Greg Abbott appealed for out-of-state help to fight the third wave of COVID-19 in Texas while two more of the state's largest school districts announced mask mandates in defiance of the governor.

Abbott's request Monday came as a county-owned hospital in Houston raised tents to accommodate their COVID-19 overflow. Private hospitals in the county already were requiring their staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Meantime, the Dallas and Austin school districts announced Monday that they would require students and staff to wear face masks. The Houston school district already announced a mask mandate for its students and staff later this week if its board approves.

The highly contagious Delta variant is fueling the wave.

The Republican governor has directed the Texas Department of State Health Services to use staffing agencies to find additional medical staff from beyond the state's borders as the delta wave began to overwhelm its present staffing resources. He also has sent a letter to the Texas Hospital Association to request that hospitals postpone all elective medical procedures voluntarily.

Abbott also directed the state health department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to open additional COVID-19 antibody infusion centers to treat patients not needing hospital care and expand COVID-19 vaccine availability to the state's underserved communities. He also announced about $267 million in emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits for August. That was on top of the $3.9 billion in benefits previously allocated since April 2020.

The governor is taking action short of lifting his emergency order banning county and local government entities from requiring the wearing of masks and social distancing to lower the COVID-19 risk. Abbott has said repeatedly that Texans have the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health and the health of those around them.

Also Monday, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins filed a lawsuit asking a judge to strike down Abbott's mask mandate ban.

Meantime, one of Houston's two county-owned hospitals was pitching tents to accommodate its COVID-19 overflow. Harris Health System and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in northeastern Houston added nearly 2,000 square feet of medical tents in the hope of taking control of the anticipated increase in patient volume and keep staff and non-COVID-19 patients safe.

Last week, Houston area officials said the wave of Delta variant infections so strained the area's hospitals that some patients had to be transferred out of the city, with one being sent to North Dakota.

In Dallas, the superintendent of the state's second-largest public school system announced Monday that the district would require masks and social distancing from Tuesday, Abbott's ban notwithstanding.

At a news conference, Dallas schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the school district's legal advisors assured that Abbott's order does not limit the district's rights as an employer and educational institution to establish reasonable and necessary safety rules for its staff and students.

Austin schools announced their mask requirement late Monday.

The superintendent of the Houston school district, the state's largest, announced last week that the district would require masks and social distancing in the district's schools effective upon district board approval Thursday. A group of parents sued the Houston Independent School District over the weekend, challenging the requirements.

Texas Hospitals Overflow with COVID Patients
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa announces that masks will be required at all Dallas ISD schools at DISD headquarters in Dallas, Monday, August 9, 2021. Brandon Wade/The Dallas Morning News/Associated Press