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Why was Texas unable to stop a second COVID surge months in the making?



TX – For a second time, a surge in COVID-19 cases has pushed Texas hospitals beyond their base capacity, thwarted the state’s plan to reopen businesses and spurred a wave of deaths that health experts say was avoidable.

Instead of effectively mitigating a virus that already has killed more than 30,000, Texas is enduring one of its darkest chapters of the COVID-19 pandemic as state officials scramble to vaccinate 29 million residents.

Critics of Gov. Greg Abbott’s October reopening guidelines say state leaders are repeating many of the same mistakes from last summer’s crisis by opting against tighter restrictions, fighting local officials’ efforts to close high-risk businesses and relaying mixed messages to the public.

City and county leaders are sending conflicting signals of their own, urging residents to stay home and avoid crowds while doing little to enforce mask rules or capacity limits, citing a lack of manpower.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, left, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and others watch as Houston Methodist Hospital RN Kristin Adolphs prepares to give Nestor Esnaola, surgical director of cancer center, his COVID-19 vaccination at Houston Methodist Hospital Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Houston.

Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

And many of their constituents simply have tuned out the partisan bickering and given up on following health guidelines. Fatigued after 10 months, some members of the public largely have resumed their normal lives, gathering unmasked with others, ensuring the virus continues to spread.