Texas shows 450 new COVID deaths as state toll nears 33,000

    Texas state health officials reported 450 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday as fatalities rapidly mount after a recent surge in hospitalizations.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has touted expanded vaccination efforts, but the rising death toll — 2,200 over the past seven days — and high numbers of seriously ill patients prompted a social media warning from state health officials that hospitals are struggling.

    “Texas must avoid an additional surge in cases. Hospitals can’t take much more. Fatalities are still increasing,” the Department of State Health Services tweeted on its official account.

    Dominick Taylor, left, receives his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Lesia Turner at the Dallas County mass vaccination site at Fair Park Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Dallas. Taylor is a front line worker with Dallas County Human and Health Resources. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    Texas had seen a peak of just under 11,000 hospitalizations during the summer virus peak in July. After falling to around 3,200 in September, the state has seen hospitals hit by a winter surge of new cases, patients and deaths. Texas hit a record high of 14,218 hospitalized COVID patients on Jan. 12 and has hovered above 13,700 since then.

    Abbott has said Texas won’t go through another lockdown. Instead he has focused on vaccination efforts as the state has shifted most of its doses from smaller providers to large hubs that can serve thousands of patients a day.

    The state is making vaccines available to any doctor or nurse in close contact with COVID-19 patients, other health care workers, and Texans 65 or older or anyone with a major health condition such as cancer, diabetes or kidney disease.

    Texas officials report that about 1.2 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine and that about 185,000 are fully vaccinated. Abbott has urged the federal government to send more doses as quickly as it can.

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