AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Hospital Association on Friday urged Texans to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small as statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb.
The Texas Department of State Health Services reported 11,738 new cases Friday, the state's second-highest single-day total of the pandemic. The record was set Thursday, with 12,256 new cases.
"We are counting on you to stay vigilant and protect yourself, so that we can remain ready and able to provide help to those who need us most," the association, which represents nearly 500 Texas hospitals, said in a statement. "This has been a long road, and while we have come a long way, Texas hospitalizations are sharply increasing, reaching almost 8,000 hospitalizations yesterday — the highest we've seen since the devastating summer outbreak in Texas."
A spokeswoman for the association said the group continues to be concerned about hot spots in El Paso, the Panhandle and elsewhere in West Texas.
State health officials reported 8,164 hospitalizations Friday, the first time since Aug. 7 that the number has exceeded 8,000. Hospitalizations reached a plateau of just over 3,000 through much of September before starting to steadily rise since the beginning of October.
Cases are increasing in much of the rest of the country ahead of Thanksgiving.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised Americans to avoid traveling for Thanksgiving because the country has seen an "exponential increase" in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, said Dr. Henry Walke, COVID-19 incident manager at the CDC.
"We're alarmed," he said at a news briefing. "What we're concerned about is not only the actual mode of travel — whether it's an airplane or bus or car, but also the transportation hubs."
Local health officials likewise have urged residents to avoid traditional large Thanksgiving feasts with extended family and friends.
In the face of record infection numbers, Gov. Greg Abbott has made it clear that he will not move to shut down the state, as he did in April and as some other governors have recently done.