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Texas Senator John Cornyn

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.

Cornyn also praised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision on Thursday to halt elective surgeries at some state hospitals, tweeting, "Prudence not fear mongering is called for."

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.

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been claiming that COVID-19 has been mostly defeated in the U.S. — which is laughable in light of how much infection rates have been surging, especially in Sun Belt states. But according to Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, Team Trump has found a new coronavirus talking point: claiming that Americans can learn to live with the pandemic and the ever-climbing death count.

According to Abutaleb and Dawsey, the "goal" of Trump's White House and campaign allies "is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year, and the economy will continue to improve. White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House's thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations."

A Trump Administration senior official, quoted anonymously, told the Post that Americans will "live with the virus being a threat." And a former Trump official, according to the Post, said of Trump's allies, "They're of the belief that people will get over it, or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on — and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day."

Figures from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore show that the coronavirus pandemic continues to be quite deadly — especially in the United States. As of Monday morning, July 6, Hopkins was reporting a worldwide COVID-19 death count of more than 534,800 — and almost 130,000 of those deaths were in the U.S.

Biden's campaign has been asserting that the former vice president has a much better track record than Trump when it comes to pandemics. Democratic strategist and Biden campaign adviser Ariana Berengaut told the Post, "From really January on, Vice President Biden has been laser focused on the rising risk to the American people presented by this pandemic. You can almost imagine them side by side — Trump's leadership and Biden's leadership…. Trump has no plan for tomorrow, no plan for a week from now; so, there is absolutely no plan for the fall, and that's what encapsulates the whole arc of that contrast."

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, told the Post that Trump's coronavirus response has been and continues to be an abysmal failure.

Garin asserted, "Trump is increasingly defined in voters' minds by his failing response to the coronavirus crisis, and virtually every action and position he's taken have been wildly out of sync with where the public is at on what should be done. Biden now has a remarkable opportunity to contrast himself with this failure of leadership that a large majority of voters see so clearly."