Analysis: Casting nervous looks at Texas’ medical charts as numbers worsen

Gov. Greg Abbott waits backstage before a press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic. USA Today Network via REUTERS

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Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t predict that the number of COVID-19 cases would fall as the state allowed businesses and cultural centers to reopen. In fact, he said allowing more people back into public places could increase the spread of infection.

And so it has, with several of what the governor has called the “key metrics” of this pandemic’s effect on Texas rising over the past two weeks — ever since the Memorial Day weekend. The increases are turning heads, increasing scrutiny on Abbott and other public officials who have been attempting to keep Texans safe without destroying the state’s economy or trampling on people’s civil liberties.

One big question was, and is, whether Texas has the medical resources to keep up — whether there are enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds and other medical assets for the people who need them at any particular time. Maybe it seems like a long time ago, but that “flattening the curve” slogan we all learned in March was all about making sure the disease doesn’t spread faster than our health system’s ability to respond.

Drops in the numbers encouraged policymakers to reopen various public gathering places they had temporarily closed. They still want us to wash our hands and wear masks and socially distance ourselves, even as life in Texas gets a little bit more like it was at the first of the year.