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Texas bans elective surgeries in more than 100 counties as coronavirus hospitalizations keep climbing

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Greg Abbott at WTTC Global Summit 2016. (World Travel & Tourism Council/Flickr)

Gov. Greg Abbott said the decision is designed to free up more resources to address the pandemic.

With cases of the new coronavirus and related hospitalizations rising at alarming rates, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state.

Surgeries and other procedures that are not “immediately, medically” necessary — which have already been on hold in many of the state’s biggest cities and several South Texas counties — are now barred in much of the state, from far West Texas to much of Central Texas, Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast.

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Those procedures can still take place in some, mostly rural parts of the state, including the Panhandle and the South Plains, as well as much of North and Northeast Texas, excluding Dallas County.

“We are freeing up more resources to address upticks in COVID-19 related cases,” Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of this virus and support our hospitals and health care professionals as they care for their fellow Texans.”

As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized with the virus had reached a record high of 9,610 — twice as many as there were on June 25. But the pressure on hospitals is not evenly distributed around the state. Hospital capacity is currently most taxed around the state’s biggest cities, as well as most of South Texas.

The governor’s order applies to 11 of the state’s 22 Trauma Service Areas: J, K, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U and V, as well as Dallas County.

A map of the trauma service area of the state.

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Florida to investigate all COVID-19 deaths after questions about ‘integrity’ of data

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida, which has reported the deaths of more than 16,400 people from COVID-19, now says the public may not be able to trust any of those numbers.The state Department of Health on Wednesday ordered an investigation of all pandemic fatalities, one week after House Speaker Jose Oliva slammed the death data from medical examiners as “often lacking in rigor” and undermining “the completeness and reliability of the death records.”House Democrats then blasted the House Republicans’ report as an insult to coronavirus victims and an attempt “to downplay the death toll.”The pol... (more…)

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Suicides never actually went up under COVID-19 as Trump suggested: report

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President Donald Trump has spent the better part of the past several months justifying the reopening despite the COVID-19 pandemic by saying that people are dying whether it was from the coronavirus or something else.

“I mean, we have never closed the country before, and we have had some pretty bad flus, and we have had some pretty bad viruses" Trump said at a Fox News town hall in March. “You’re going to have suicides by the thousands.”

“People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death," he said at a press briefing that same month. "Probably and — I mean, definitely — would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus.”

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Volunteer in Oxford COVID-19 vaccine test dies in Brazil: officials

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A volunteer participating in clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University has died in Brazil, officials said Wednesday, though it was unclear whether he received the vaccine or a placebo.

It is the first death reported in the various coronavirus vaccine trials taking place worldwide.

However, organizers of the study said an independent review had concluded there were no safety concerns and that testing of the vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, would continue.

Media reports said the volunteer was a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of the pandemic who died of complications from Covid-19.

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