Texas hit a new record high for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for the fifth consecutive day Friday, in a continued surge of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus following holiday gatherings and travel.
Texas reported 12,481 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals on New Year's Day, an increase of more than 1,750 from a week ago. Intensive care units in several parts of Texas were full or nearly full, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Friday's hospitalization number marked an increase of 213 from Thursday. In Trauma Service Area E, which covers North Texas' four largest counties and the surrounding area, COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 3,764 to 3,743 -- the first time in five days the number has decreased.
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COVID-19 patients in TSA E make up 22.8% of hospital capacity.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 64 ICU beds remained Friday in the 19-county area that makes up TSA E -- the lowest number since Dec. 8.
The grim count has continued to climb as some Texans gathered to celebrate the new year, despite warnings from health officials that congregation is likely to further spread the virus.
State health officials on Friday reported 12,369 new, confirmed cases of the virus and another 3,658 probable cases. They also counted 334 newly-reported fatalities, bring the state's total death toll to 27,771.
The single day high for reported COVID-19 deaths was set Thursday at 349.
In the last three days of 2020, the state reported 1,009 coronavirus-related deaths, raising the possibility that this week could become Texas' deadliest of the pandemic. From Aug. 10-16, DSHS reported 1,544 fatalities.
The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven't been tested and some who get sick don't show symptoms.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness and be fatal.
Coronavirus Cases in Texas
Locations on the map are approximate county locations and are not intended to identify where any infected people live.
Case data pulled from a variety of sources including county health departments, Texas Department of State Health Services, KXAN-TV in Austin and KPRC-TV in Houston.