COVID-19 coverage graphic

Gregg County on Sunday again had a double-digit increase in new cases of COVID-19 as officials in Houston called for the city to lock back down area hospitals there strain to accommodate coronavirus patients.

Health Administrator A.J. Harris said Sunday Gregg County added 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 826.

He said a total of 4,313 tests have been administered in the county, with 3,246 negative and 241 pending. There have been 184 recoveries and 14 deaths, both unchanged from Saturday.

Elsewhere in the area, Harrison County Judge Chad Sims reported 25 more cases Sunday to bring the total there to 440. Sims also said there have been 11 more recoveries for a total of 256.

“I’m not aware that any of these are from the walk-up testing,” Sims said.

Twelve of the new cases are from long-term care facilities, he said. Harrison County has had 30 coronavirus-related deaths.

The Paris-Lamar County Health District on Sunday announced an additional 13 cases for a total in that county of 410 with 150 active cases. Lamar County has had 14 deaths related to the new coronavirus.

The Northeast Texas Public Health District on Sunday afternoon had not updated cases for the counties it covers since Friday.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, both Democrats, said this weekend that a stay-at-home order is needed for America’s fourth largest city to cope with the surge of COVID-19 cases.

“Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens,” Hidalgo said on Twitter Sunday. “Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let’s learn from that & not make the same mistake twice.”

The call comes after a week in which Texas continued to break records for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to the disease. State health officials reported 8,196 new cases Sunday, another 80 deaths and a total of 10,410 people hospitalized due to the virus.

The true number of cases is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

The decision over a lockdown, however, rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott— who has resisted this step, saying it should be a last resort.

Abbott led one of America’s swiftest reopenings following earlier closures in Texas. But in recent weeks, he reversed course amid swiftly climbing cases.

Ahead of Independence Day, the governor ordered bars to close back down and, after undercutting local leaders’ power to do so, required people to wear face coverings in public in much of the state.

On Friday, Abbott extended a statewide disaster order that warned Texans another shutdown might be needed if the virus’ spread isn’t contained. He announced Sunday that the federal government will continue to fund large testing centers in Dallas and Houston through the end of July.