COVID-19 coverage graphic

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Texas continued to surge Saturday with the state reporting 5,747 new cases and a new record for hospitalizations.

A day earlier, Gov. Greg Abbott shut down bars again and scaled back restaurant dining as cases climbed to record levels after the state embarked on one of America’s fastest reopenings.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said the new number of cases reported Saturday brought the state’s total to 143,371 confirmed cases. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the COVID-19 virus without feeling sick.

Also Saturday, health officials said 42 more deaths were reported from the virus, bringing the state’s total to 2,366.

Texas is scrambling to contain what is now one of the nation’s biggest hotspots. Abbott has also ordered rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers to close and required outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more to seek approval from local governments.

Abbott began lifting lockdown orders in May and has since accelerated his own timelines on some openings amid protests from conservatives.

Texas reached a record high positive tests of 5,996 on Thursday.

On Friday, Texas surpassed 5,000 hospitalizations for the first time with 5,102 hospitalizations. Health officials said Saturday that the number of people hospitalized was at 5,523, a record.

Across East Texas

In Gregg County, four new cases of COVID-19 were reported Saturday, raising the county’s cumulative total to 344, County Health Administrator A.J. Harris said.

Harris also reported 145 recoveries, 3,104 total tests administered, 2,595 negative tests with 165 tests pending. Gregg County has recorded 14 deaths.

Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said his county has three more cases, raising the total to 291. Harrison County also had 197 recoveries and 30 deaths.

The Office of Emergency Management in Rusk County reported three more cases there, bringing the total number of cases to 84. Rusk County has had 52 recoveries and two deaths.

Titus County Judge Brian Lee reported no new cases Saturday, but said in a statement that his county along with Mount Pleasant leaders and the COVID-19 leadership team are “strongly” encouraging residents and visitors to wear face coverings in public.

Lee said Gov. Greg Abbott has said cities and counties can’t impose civil or criminal penalties for failure to wear masks.

“This makes enforcement of mandated masking effectively impossible at the local city and county level,” Lee said “Ultimately, it is the individual responsibility of each person to protect themselves and others in our community. The key is to find that balance. Failure to do so will result in continued spread of the virus which will prolong the return to normalcy in all aspects of our community.

“Your local government cannot enforce rules that disrupt this balance. Removing all restrictions and recommendations will not work, nor will strict enforcement of stay-at-home orders, business closure or mandatory masking.”