AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas hit a new record high for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 for the fifth consecutive day Friday, in a continued surge of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus following holiday gatherings and travel.
Texas reported 12,481 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals on New Year's Day, an increase of more than 1,750 from a week ago. Intensive care units in several parts of Texas were full or nearly full, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The grim count has continued to climb as some Texans gathered to celebrate the new year, despite warnings from health officials that congregation is likely to further spread the virus.
On Friday night, the Texas Supreme Court struck down rules banning Austin-area bars and restaurants from offering late-night dine-in service, siding with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton over local official who said the measure was needed to slow the virus' spread.
A lower court on Thursday had upheld the prohibition on late-night service through Jan. 3, despite objections from the Republican attorney general that it was illegal. But some city bars remained open past the curfew anyway, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
State health officials on Friday reported 12,369 new, confirmed cases of the virus and another 3,658 probable cases. They also counted 334 newly-reported fatalities, bring the state's total death toll to 27,771.
The actual number of cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get sick don’t show symptoms.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illness and be fatal.