A Texas scientist says the state is facing a 'humanitarian catastrophe,' which will worsen without immediate and aggressive social distancing

Austin, Texas murals.
Joey Hadden / Business Insider
As the fifth worst-affected state in the United States, Texas has reported at least 128,132 coronavirus cases and 2,270 deaths by Thursday.
The state is struggling with an increase in new cases, and governor Greg Abbott paused Thursday's state reopening plan.
Dr. Peter Hotez, who is developing a COVID-19 vaccine, said the situation in Texas was a "humanitarian catastrophe" and described the country's response to the pandemic as "one of the greatest public health failures in history "the United States. "
Hotez said Texas had no time to waste and needed to "introduce a significant amount of social detachment" immediately before the weekend.
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Coronavirus cases are increasing across Texas, prompting Governor Greg Abbott to ask residents to stay at home as much as possible.
Abbott defended the state's reopening a month ago because his death and hospital stay rates were lower than in other states of similar size. Abbott earlier this week after informing local CBS subsidiary KFDA that "Texas closure will always be the last option," Abbott announced a "temporary pause" for the state's reopening plan on Thursday. Companies that have already reopened can continue to work with limited occupancy, he said.
As of Thursday, the U.S. has confirmed more than 2.38 million cases and 122,000 deaths. As the fifth worst affected state, Texas reported 128,132 cases and 2,270 deaths based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
On Tuesday alone, 5,489 new cases were reported in the state, which Abbott described as a "massive outbreak," and Dr. Peter Hotez, who is working on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, is described as "absolutely terrible".
Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told the Houston Chronicle that he was "terribly upset" about the increase in coronavirus cases. He said some models had predicted this trend, which is why he "didn't want Texas to open up so early."
Now that the cases are increasing, Texas has no time to waste.
"We need to implement a significant amount of social distancing. Now we have no choice," said Hotez of the Chronicle. "We need to take action before the weekend. At least we have to focus on the metropolitan areas: Houston, San Antonio and Austin."
Houston is well on its way to becoming the most affected city in the United States
Customers enter a Gucci fashion store at The Galleria mall on May 1, 2020 after the mall opened during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Houston.
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Reuters
In the meantime, Hotez told ABC13 that Houston, which is located in the most affected Harris County, is on the verge of becoming the most affected city in the country.
He repeated this in the Chronicle, saying, "We are already going through a bad health crisis in Houston and it will only get worse."
Referring to the ModelLab Children's Hospital Modeling in Philadelphia, Hotez told Bloomberg that Harris County was on track to triple or quadruple its cases by mid-July, which would be "apocalyptic".
Local news reported Thursday that intensive care units in the Houston region have reached their maximum capacity.
Zach Despart
@ Zachdespart
. @ TXMedCenter has officially reached a base capacity of 100% in the intensive care unit as the number of COVID cases in #Houston continues to increase.
Key numbers:
- 373 long-term intensive care beds available
- 504 short term ""
- Harris County has 4.7 million residents
https: //
twitter.com/zachdespart/st
atus / 1275895432279973891
...
Zach Despart
@ Zachdespart
Right now: In a joint statement, the heads of @TXMedCenter say that COVID's hospital stays are increasing "alarmingly fast" and urge residents to "stay at home if possible".
The largest medical complex in the world could soon run out of space in the intensive care unit.
https: //
twitter.com/zachdespart/st
atus / 1275871893149691906
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7:27 p.m. - June 25, 2020
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When asked about Rep. Pete Olson from Texas, who described the Houston situation as "damn scary", Hotez replied: "I think the congressman read my social media page. Unfortunately, that is the situation in which we are unless we do something, the default plan is for cases to increase until we reach herd immunity. These numbers would go up vertically. "
According to Hotez, the situation in Houston, in which state health data show that at least 15,266 people tested positive for COVID-19, is considered a "red warning of the extent of the coronavirus threat".
"Six months after this epidemic, we're basically in first place," said Hotez of the Chronicle.
Hotez told the BBC that Texas was facing a "humanitarian catastrophe" and stressed the need to act quickly to contain the severity of this public health crisis.
"Nationally, this is one of the biggest public health shortcomings in US history," he said of the Chronicle. "We have a vaccine that we hope to develop at this time next year. This pandemic is not going to get better on its own."
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