Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Thursday attacked a state representative who expressed concern over Houston hospitals reaching ICU capacity.
"We're at the edge of the cliff," state Rep. Gene Wu tweeted earlier Thursday morning. "After these next few days, we will not have enough beds to care for all of the incoming #COVID19 patients. Then people die."
Wu was expressing concern over a local news article that showed 97 percent intensive care unit (ICU) beds at Houston's Texas Medical Center were full as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the area.
"Quit trying to scare people," Cornyn tweeted moments later. "Actually, only 27 percent of ICU beds at Texas Medical Center are #COVID19 patients and nearly all will recover. 70 percent of ICU beds are non-#COVID19 patients."
Texas notched a single-day record on Wednesday with 5,551 new cases. The previous record, 5,489 new cases, was set on Tuesday.
In addition to a surge in new cases, the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 has also increased sharply in recent weeks.
Texas health experts, meanwhile, have raised the alarm about the spike in cases and hospitalizations.
"This is not good," Dr. Faisal Masud, Houston Methodist hospital system's critical care director, told NBC News on Thursday.
Masud said that "if this trajectory is what it was the last 10 days when we literally had a tripling of our cases — we can't do that for a couple weeks at all."
Dr. Marc Boom, CEO of Houston Methodist hospitals, told employees last week that a rapid increase in new cases could "eventually challenge our ability to treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients."
"We appear to be nearing the tipping point," he wrote in an email.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told Congress on Tuesday that the number of deaths "always lag considerably behind cases," adding that he expected death tolls to increase in the coming weeks.
Texas was one of the first states to lift restrictions and allow businesses to reopen, which some experts say may have contributed to the spike in cases.
"People got complacent," Boom told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. "And it's coming back and biting us, quite frankly."
Cornyn has downplayed the severity of the crisis for months.
In March, he tweeted out a photo of a bottle of Corona beer with the message, "Be smart; don't panic. We will get us through this."
Later that same month, he blamed Donald Trump's impeachment for the administration's slow and flawed response to the pandemic.
Trump's response was hindered because he was "forced to defend himself against bogus impeachment charges," Cornyn tweeted on March 24.
In April, Cornyn dismissed the idea of a nationwide stay-at-home order in order to slow the spread of the virus.
"Locking down the country more than necessary to defeat the virus to me seems like an overreaction," he told reporters on April 2.
As of Thursday, Texas had 131,310 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the New York Times. At least 2,292 people have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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