A Texas Panhandle mayor who's battling cancer and whose city is dealing with a surge in coronavirus cases announced Wednesday that she and her husband have tested positive for COVID-19.
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said her husband tested positive last week. Nelson got an initial negative test but after her symptoms worsened, she got another test and it came back positive.
"So, the Nelson family is quarantined for Thanksgiving and we are resting and treating our symptoms and seem to be doing just fine," Nelson said during an online news conference.
Nelson's announcement about testing positive for COVID-19 comes after she had revealed in January she had been diagnosed with blood cancer. Nelson has said her prognosis is good and she has been receiving treatment.
The mayor said she wanted to use what happened to her and the initial negative coronavirus test she received as a warning about believing one may not be sick and then deciding to get together on Thanksgiving with family members who are older or whose health might be compromised and are more at risk for getting the virus.
"You might think you're fine. But the last thing I know that many of us would want to do is to put them in a position where they would get this virus and not be able to recover," said Nelson.
Officials in Amarillo on Wednesday asked residents to not celebrate Thanksgiving in large groups and use video chatting and conference calls to reach out to relatives not in their immediate households.
"We've got to be smart about this holiday," said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, chief medical officer at BSA Health System in Amarillo. "We are on the brink of a potential situation that is going to put our citizens in the Panhandle here in Amarillo where we're going to be really stretching the heath care resources so thin that we're not going to be providing optimal care."
Officials said that over 39% of all patients hospitalized in 25 counties in the Texas Panhandle have COVID-19. Only nine intensive care unit beds were available in the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday, according to state health officials.
The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths have spiked in recent weeks across the state.
Texas recorded 14,648 coronavirus cases Wednesday, setting a new daily record that surpassed by 650 the previous one-day high set a day earlier.
The Texas Department of State Health Services on Wednesday also announced 200 new deaths and 8,585 virus hospitalizations. Wednesday was the first time since Aug. 13 that newly reported daily deaths were at 200 or more.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Texas has risen from 8,208 new cases per day on Nov. 10 to 10,837 on Tuesday, based on data from Johns Hopkins University.
One in every 325 people in Texas tested positive in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins.
In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner pleaded with residents to not gather in big groups on Thanksgiving to help stop the virus' spread. Harris County, where Houston is located, has had the most number of coronavirus cases in the state with more than 185,000 and the most fatalities with 2,984.
"I can't force anybody to stay home. But what I can say is understand the ramification of your own actions," Turner said. On Thanksgiving "you can come together in big numbers. You can do that. But let me tell you this virus has no respect for persons."