• Elective surgeries were suspended in the counties surrounding San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin
  • Infections have surged 16% to 45% since last week in those counties
  • Statewide, 125,921 infections have been confirmed, along with 2,249 deaths

The rapid surge in coronavirus cases in Texas in recent days prompted Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday to order a halt to elective surgeries in four counties to free up hospital beds for COVID-19 cases and pause the state’s reopening efforts.

Cases have been surging across the U.S. as states push to reopen their economies. The U.S. reported an increase of 36,880 cases Wednesday, the worst day since the pandemic began. By early Thursday afternoon, nearly 2.4 million coronavirus infections had been confirmed with 122,117 deaths.

In addition to Texas, cases were reported surging in Arizona, the Carolinas, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. Daily case counts were up in 29 states in the last two weeks.

“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” Abbott said in a press release.

“These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients.”

The order applies to the counties surrounding San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday the city’s intensive-care units were nearly at capacity with COVID-19 patients taking up a quarter of the beds.

Statewide, 125,921 coronavirus infections have been confirmed along with 2,249 deaths. Infection rates in San Antonio are up more than 45% from last week and deaths are up 11% while Houston reported a 34% increase in cases and 12.4% increase in deaths while Austin reported a 32% increase incases and 5.5% increase in deaths. Dallas reported a 16% increase in cases and 7% increase in deaths.

Abbott also ordered an overall pause in statewide reopenings, saying it was important to focus on stemming the spread of the virus.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” he said, urging the state’s residents to wear masks, wash their hands regularly and practice social distancing.

“The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business,” he said.