Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on rise in Texas, with 10,724 people being treated in hospitals across the state on Thursday, a figure just shy of the record-high levels reported over the summer.
State health officials also reported 12,783 new coronavirus infections on Christmas Eve, one day after setting a new record for daily infections with more than 19,000 new cases.
Health leaders across the country are calling on people to limit their holiday gatherings to members of their immediate households and to observe strict masking and social distancing practices for any in-person interactions.
In Travis County, health officials have moved the area into Stage 5 of Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines, the highest pandemic threat level so far this year.
Under the Stage 5 guidelines, it is recommended that restaurants close all indoor dining and limit outdoor dining capacity. They are also urged to switch to delivery and takeout only. Retail stores are also urged to limit their capacity to 50%.
Although a curfew is permitted under the guidelines, officials said they have hoped to avoid such an action.
Central Texas is not the only area seeing a rise in cases and hospitalizations.
Ten of the state’s 22 trauma service areas have crossed a state-mandated hospitalization threshold that triggers tighter restrictions on businesses, an end to elective surgeries and the closure of bars.
Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Dallas-Fort Worth, Longview, Lufkin, El Paso, Waco, Galveston and Laredo have all crossed the threshold, reporting that COVID-19 patients have occupied more than 15% of available hospital beds for at least seven consecutive days.