Leaders in two of Texas' biggest cities are calling on the governor to empower local governments to order residents to stay home as the state's continued surge in coronavirus cases tests hospital capacity.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he wants Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to return control of his city to the local government as its hospitals face a potential crisis.
"If we don't change the trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun," Adler, a Democrat said. "And in our ICUs, I could be 10 days away from that."
Texas reported 3,449 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Sunday, after a record high of 8,258 Saturday. State health officials also reported 29 additional deaths, bringing the totals to 2,637 fatalities and 195,239 confirmed cases. A record 8,181 Texans with COVID-19 were hospitalized Sunday.
The true number of cases is likely much higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest that people can be infected and not feel sick
The Fourth of July weekend has also seen some defiance of Abbott's orders closing bars and requiring people to wear face coverings in public in much of the state.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
The mask order -- which carries a $250 fine -- came as part of the most dramatic about-face Abbott, a Republican, has made as he retreats from what stood out as one of America's swiftest reopenings.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top county official in the Houston area, said she's grateful for the mask mandate but that a stay-at-home order is needed.
"We don't have room for incrementalism, we're seeing these kinds of numbers, nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill and all these people to die, before we take drastic action," Hidalgo, a Democrat, told ABC's "This Week."
Houston has rapidly become one of the American cities hit hardest by the virus. In addition to strained hospital capacity, it needs help meeting the demand for testing, Mayor Sylvester Turner told CBS' "Face The Nation" Sunday.
Over the last month, the proportion of tests that come back positive for the virus has rocketed from about one in 10 to nearly one in four, Turner, a Democrat, said.
In the face of the city's rising infection rate, Texas' Republican party leadership last week affirmed plans to hold its in-person convention in Houston. And not all Texans are following measures meant to limit the virus' spread over Independence Day weekend.
Adler said the lack of unified public health messaging is endangering Texans, and expressed outrage over President Donald Trump's statements this week that the virus could "just disappear."
"And when they start hearing that kind of ambiguous message coming out of Washington, there are more and more people that won't wear masks, that won't social distance, that won't do what it takes to keep a community safe," the mayor told CNN. "And that's wrong, and it's dangerous."
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 highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.
Tracking COVID-19 Cases in North Texas Counties
NBC 5 is tracking the number of COVID-19 related cases, recoveries and deaths in North Texas counties. Choose a county and click on a city or town to see how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your area.
Cases are cumulative by day and are subject to change, dependent on each county health department's reporting schedule and methodology. Data may be reported county-wide, by city or town, or not at all. Cases, recoveries and death counts in 'unspecified' categories are used as placeholders and reassigned by their respective counties at a later date.
Data: County Health Departments, NBC 5 Staff