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The Texas Tribune
AUSTIN—The latest COVID-19 surge in Texas could be the worst one yet, according to health officials, who are warning that the numbers could overwhelm the state’s hospital system.
More Texas hospitals are reporting a shortage of ICU beds than at any other time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state 18 months ago.
The state has asked the federal government for five mortuary trailers in anticipation of a potential spike in deaths.
In Dallas County on Monday, only 16 intensive care beds were available to serve the county of 2.6 million and its surrounding areas.
Last week in San Antonio, 26 minutes went by with no ambulances available to respond to 911 calls from the city’s 1.5 million residents.
In Austin, paramedics are so understaffed and overworked that some ambulances have to sit unused because there is no one to run them.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday afternoon that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Abbott, who is fully vaccinated, is not experiencing any symptoms and is isolating at the Governor’s Mansion, spokesperson Mark Miner said in a statement. He is getting Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment. Public health officials have noted that while breakthrough cases like Abbott’s are occurring, vaccines are still proven to be effective at reducing the severity of the virus.
The governor’s positive case comes as he refuses to allow local governments and school districts to mandate masks or vaccines. Abbott has also kept up public appearances — he spoke Monday night at what he called a “standing room only event” in Collin County, later tweeting photos of him addressing a maskless crowd.