AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday joined the ranks of governors receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on live television in hopes of assuring the public that the inoculations are safe.
Abbott, a Republican, said after getting the vaccine at a hospital in the state capital that federal health officials have urged governors to set an example. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also received the first dose this week, while other governors have said they’ll wait.
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients are continuing to increase in Texas. 10,299 people were hospitalized Tuesday — 290 more than the day before according to data complied by the COVID Tracking Project. This week the number of daily hospitalizations exceeded 10,000 for the first time since a deadly summer outbreak in July that saw daily hospitalizations near 11,000.
Abbott has said he won’t impose new lockdown measures as cases climb.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say there have been nearly 26,000 COVID-19 related deaths in Texas, the second highest in the country. Overall there have been more than 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus in the Lone Star State.
Johns Hopkins says that over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 1,330, an increase of 9%.
Johns Hopkins says one in every 254 people in Texas tested positive in the past week.
The actual number of coronavirus cases is believed to be far higher because many people haven’t been tested and some who get the disease 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.