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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Tarrant County reports 1,537 new COVID cases on Sunday and 6 deaths

Tarrant County Public Health reported 1,537 new cases on Sunday, Nov. 22 and six deaths.

“It took 90 days to reach 10,000 cases in June. It took 7 days to go from 80,000 to 90,000 cases last week!,” the TCPH said on Twitter.

Texas surpassed 8,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients Friday for the first time since a deadly summer surge as doctors amplified pleas to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small.

The worsening surge of cases has El Paso County — where the pandemic is blamed for more than 300 deaths since October — now searching for prospective morgue workers. County leaders are offering $27 an hour for work they describe as not only physically arduous but “emotionally taxing as well.”

The job posting comes as El Paso is already paying jail inmates to move bodies and has 10 refrigerated trucks as morgues began to overflow.

Texas reported more than 11,700 new cases Friday, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic. More than 8,100 virus patients are hospitalized, the most since early August.

The Texas Hospital Association, the industry group representing more than 500 hospitals, issued a new appeal for families to keep holiday gatherings “very small” as doctors and nurses struggle to keep up with rising caseloads.

“They are tired and emotionally drained. They are worried about their own families,” the organization said in a statement.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has ruled out another shutdown and accused local leaders of not enforcing restrictions already in place. The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, likened El Paso’s chief administrator to a “tyrant” after Paxton won an appeals court ruling blocking local leaders from shutting down gyms and other nonessential businesses.

The overall U.S. death toll has reached about 254,000, by far the most in the world. Confirmed infections have eclipsed more than 11.8 million, after the biggest one-day gain on record Thursday — almost 188,000. And the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000.

With health experts deeply afraid Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions. California ordered a 10 p.m.-to 5-a.m. curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are at their highest level since late May, when the Northeast was emerging from the first wave of the crisis. They peaked at about 2,200 a day in late April, when New York City was the epicenter and bodies were being loaded onto refrigerated trucks by forklift.

Among the newly infected was President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who a spokesman said Friday has no symptoms and has been quarantining since learning of his diagnosis earlier this week.

Amid the bleak new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, setting in motion a process that could make the first, limited shots available as early as next month, with health care workers and other high-risk groups likely to get priority.

But it could take months before the vaccine becomes widely available. Pfizer has said the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing the disease.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, also a Republican, failed to persuade leaders of the GOP-controlled legislature to reject a bill that would limit his administration’s power to deal with the crisis.

At issue is a Senate bill that would ban the state health department from issuing mandatory quarantine orders enforced against people who are not sick or exposed to disease — such as the order announced by the governor Tuesday setting a 10 p.m. curfew.

DeWine said he will veto the bill when it reaches his desk. Republicans in both the House and Senate have enough votes to override the veto if they choose.

“This bill is a disaster,” DeWine said Thursday. “This is not a bill that can become law.”

In California, the curfew affects 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Its impact will depend heavily on voluntary compliance. Some county sheriffs said they won’t enforce it the rules for people not on essential errands to stay home after 10 p.m.

The curfew is less strict than the near-total ban on nonessential business and travel that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed in March, which he credited with flattening the rate of COVID-19 cases. – Associated Press contributed to this report

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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