Texas coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, two key indicators of the prevalence of COVID-19, reached their highest point in two months Tuesday.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 5,512 coronavirus patients in Texas hospitals Tuesday, the most since Aug. 21.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will rely heavily on hospitalization numbers when considering whether to loosen or pull back on coronavirus restrictions.
The state health agency also reported 7,055 new COVID-19 cases, the highest the number has been since Aug. 18. The seven-day average of new cases has risen by 45% since Oct. 1.
Coronavirus hospitalizations and cases have been rising for weeks, concerning state health officials and public health experts.
“We’re particularly concerned about hospitalizations,” Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Friday.
Statewide hospitalizations have been steadily rising since September, when the state saw a recent low of 3,081 on Sept. 20.
Cases reached a recent low point of 1,292 new cases reported on Sept. 27.
The health agency also reported 81 new fatalities, which likely occurred over the last 10 days. The figure brings the statewide virus death toll to 17,595.
In mid-September, Abbott relaxed capacity limits for businesses in much of the state, including restaurants, retail stores and gyms, citing declining hospitalizations.
Businesses can accommodate 75% of capacity, up from the previous 50% limit, as long as the area’s COVID-19 patients occupy 15% or fewer of available hospital beds.
Abbott later said that bars could reopen at 50% capacity starting Oct. 14 with the approval of local officials, again as long as COVID-19 patients take up 15% or fewer of available beds in the hospital service area.
Coronavirus patients currently make up more than 15% of hospitalizations in three areas — El Paso, Lubbock and Amarillo, according to state health data.
Abbott has surged state resources and medical personnel to El Paso to manage the virus. Coronavirus patients in the El Paso area made up 40.7% of the area’s total hospital capacity Tuesday.