Few states are rebooting faster than Texas, where hospitalizations surged past 2,100 on Wednesday for the first time during the pandemic. That's a 42% increase in patients since Memorial Day weekend, when beachgoers swarmed Texas’ coastline and a water park near Houston opened to big crowds in defiance of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders.
Texas’ percentage of tests coming back positive has also jumped to levels that are among the nation's highest. State officials point to hot spots at meatpacking plants and prisons in rural counties, where thousands of new cases have cropped up, but have not offered explanations for a rise in numbers elsewhere.
Abbott, who has recently begun wearing a mask in public, has shown no intention of pumping the brake on reopening a state where protesters in May pressured him to speed up the timeline on getting hair salons back in business.
On Friday, Texas is set to lift even more restrictions and let restaurant dining rooms reopen at nearly full capacity.