COVID-19 coverage graphic

On Monday, state health officials reported 3,711 hospitalizations from COVID-19, setting a record for the 11th consecutive day with a single-day jump of 302 new patients as Gov. Greg Abbott admonished Texans to cover their faces and continue social distancing while the state opens up more.

Texas also reported 3,280 new coronavirus cases, the fifth-highest total since the state began keeping records and the highest yet reported on a Monday, typically the lowest day of the week for new cases.

Five of those new cases came from Gregg County, and three each came from Harrison and Panola counties on Monday, while Smith County added 38 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

Gregg County Health Administrator A.J. Harris reported the new cases raised the county’s cumulative total up to 314.

County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne said the new cases were from the community. He said 29 to 33 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Gregg County on Friday.

He said the county isn’t experiencing the large jumps in hospitalizations that other parts of the state are.

“Not seeing a dramatic increase in Gregg County for hospitalizations so far,” Browne said. “That’s good.”

The state’s seven-day positivity rate rose again Monday — to 9.5%, its highest since April 20. Browne said he doesn’t expect the county’s rate to flatten just yet.

“I would love to see it go down to no positives, but I just don’t see it going down to that,” he said.

The rate now is “consistently going up slightly,” Browne said. “We had like 3, 0, 1 and now 5. We’re getting cases. We’re not, to me, having severity of cases.”

In a press conference Monday, Abbott acknowledged higher hospitalization and positivity rates, but urged masks as one way to battle the spread of the coronavirus.

“I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or that it is like an infringement of freedom,” Abbott said. “But I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open.”

While he has declined to order local governments to mandate the wearing of face coverings, he has said the local entities may order businesses to require them.

County Judge Bill Stout said that isn’t going to happen in Gregg County.

“No. 1, if everyone doesn’t know COVID’s alive and well, and you’re not taking care of yourself and others, then we’re in peril,” Stoudt said. “No. 2 is, there’s no way to enforce it. I’ve talked to other leadership in Gregg County, and we’re all in the same opinion.”

Longview Mayor Andy Mack echoed Stoudt.

“We do not have any plans to do that at this point in time, simply because it’s too hard to enforce. We don’t have the manpower to enforce that, and they made that pretty clear that it’s not enforceable,” Mack said, in reference to Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther who was arrested in May after reopening before restrictions were lifted, but was soon released.

Mack said he couldn’t burden first responders with looking into claims by businesses that their competitors were not obeying the rules to force customers to wear masks.

“That’s a public enforcement, by not going places that aren’t wearing masks and telling the manager, ‘I’m leaving because employees aren’t wearing masks,’” he said. “It’s not enforceable to say it, and it’s just words. The public has to be responsible and make choices.”

Harris reported 2,850 total tests had been administered in the county as of Monday, with 2,404 results returning negative and 132 results pending.

He cited one new recovery, boosting that total to 127 recovered. The county has recorded 13 deaths from COVID-19.

For people wanting to be tested, free walk-in COVID-19 testing will be offered several times in the next two weeks, beginning today, in Henderson, Mount Pleasant and Longview.

In Smith County, the 38 new cases push that county’s cumulative total to 378, according to the Northeast Texas Public Health District.

The county has marked 197 recoveries and has had four deaths from the virus. It now has 177 active cases.

Since June 1, 168 new coronavirus cases have been added in Smith County, NET Health shows. That would mean the month of June — with seven days left — accounts for 44.44% of the total cases in the county.

Tyler hospitals on Monday were treating 51 East Texas patients for COVID-19, up six from Friday.

In Harrison County, County Judge Chad Sims said the three new cases raise his county’s cumulative total to 277.

Sims also reported four new recoveries, making that total 185.

“COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the state of Texas, even though we are seeing them trail off here in Harrison County,” Sims wrote Monday in his daily Facebook update. “We have 2 options: 1) BE WISE — continue and improve our personal hygiene, avoid crowds especially indoors, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask or 2) The state trend will catch on right here in our communities and drive our numbers back up.

“Let’s all do our part to keep Harrison County open. Let me remind you of what it looks like if we don’t do our part: No haircut for two months, can’t eat at your favorite restaurant, can’t go to church, can’t get your fingernails done, can’t go to the gym, kids can’t go to school and will be stuck home with you, can’t find any toilet paper. You get the picture. Just because the state’s numbers are increasing doesn’t mean ours will. Let’s be wise.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services has reported 29 deaths for Harrison County.

In Panola County, County Judge LeeAnn Jones reported the three new cases there brought her county’s cumulative total to 217. Panola County has recorded 23 deaths from the virus.

In Lamar County, 22 new cases have been recorded, shooting that county’s cumulative total to 227, according to the Paris-Lamar County Health District.

Seven cases are travel related, and 220 are from community spread, the health district said. The county has marked 125 recoveries and has recorded 13 deaths.

Across the 25-county East Texas region, at least 4,296 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed by Monday evening, up from 4,183 the day before. The death toll Monday stood at 173, unchanged from Sunday

Across the state, 114,881 new cases were reported Monday, with 69,190 estimated recoveries.The state has 43,499 estimated active cases. The statewide death toll rose to 2,192, with 10 new fatalities reported Monday, which were the fewest reported in a week.

— City Editor Belinda McCoy McLaughlin, Digital Editor Scott Brunner, Staff Writer Kristen Barton, the Tyler Morning Telegraph and the Associated Press contributed to this report.