Protesters rally at the Texas State Capitol to speak out against Texas’ handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, in Austin, Texas, Saturday, April 18, 2020.
Eric Gay | AP
Texas reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations Monday — weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott took the lead among governors in easing social distancing measures to help bring jobs back.
There are currently 1,935 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the state, topping the previous hospitalization record of 1,888 patients on May 5, according to new data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Texas was among the first states to relax its statewide stay-at-home order, allowing it to expire April 30 and some businesses to resume operations May 1.
The coronavirus has infected more than 75,400 people in Texas, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The positivity rate for Covid-19 tests in Texas reached a low of 4.27% toward the end of May but has since jumped to 7.55%, according to the state’s health department.
While hospitalizations are increasing, there are more than 1,600 open intensive-care beds and more than 5,800 ventilators available for critically ill patients.
Some infectious disease experts say hospitalization numbers could be a better way to track a state’s reopening performance since it’s more difficult to skew than testing data, which fluctuates depending on how many tests are being run.
“Looking at things like how many ICU admissions and deaths are probably some of the strongest and most reliable (data points) because they are the worst outcomes that could happen,” said Dr. David Hardy, an adjunct professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who specializes in infectious diseases.
Texas opened hair salons on May 8 under certain restrictions, such as maintaining six feet of distance between beauty stations. Gyms and exercise facilities, nonessential manufacturing plants and office buildings could reopen with 25% capacity and other social-distancing guidelines on May 18.
The state later allowed bars to reopen at 25% capacity and restaurants at 50% capacity. Infectious disease and public health experts warn that indoor settings where people may not be wearing a face covering and the air circulates less could increase the risk of the virus spreading.
Coronavirus cases in the United States have been slowly ticking up since the Memorial Day holiday, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Hopkins. The coronavirus has now infected more than 1.95 million people in the U.S. and has killed at least 110,700.
— CNBC’s Hannah Miller contributed to this report.