AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) Texas morbid milestones continue as the state exceeded more than 12,000 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on Thursday, setting a new record high for the fourth year in a row.
Meanwhile, a Travis County district judge sided with Austin officials after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office attempted to lift a New Year’s Eve dinner ban after a hearing just hours before people normally go for a long night of partying.
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Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled the Austin area food and drink ban can be enforced from Thursday through Sunday morning between 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. every night. At a live trial, the state argued that Austin’s local orders were not allowed under previous statewide orders from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Texas had no objection to similar orders previously issued by other cities, particularly El Paso and San Antonio.
Austin area’s top elected official, District Judge Andy Brown, said in a statement the ruling will “help our community slow the spread of COVID-19 and enable businesses to conduct their operations through take-out, drive- Thru and delivery service safely continue options. “
“I encourage everyone in Travis County to order take-out at a local eatery and safely celebrate the New Year at home tonight,” Brown said.
Paxton’s office is expected to appeal the decision.
An official replay of the hearing will not be available for another day after Judge Meachum said that neither she nor her staff were planning on vacationing and were issued a last minute restraining order.
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Texas reported 12,268 hospitalized COVID patients, an increase of 1,400 in one week. State officials also counted 349 newly reported deaths. The death toll in Texas has reported more than 26,400 deaths.
The blatant numbers continue to rise as officials first introduce vaccines in a system that has created delays, confusion and frustration.
Texas had approximately 4,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine that needed to be checked for issues with cold storage requirements and some shipments replaced, the Department of Health said this week. Texas also had more than 144,000 cans expected before Christmas and only arrived this week, an agency spokeswoman said.
Abbott and State Health Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt suggested this week that some providers are not using all of their vaccines and are keeping some in reserve, which several hospital groups have denied.
According to state vaccine data, the state received 773,000 doses and more than 282,515 people had received at least one round of shooting as of Wednesday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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