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White House COVID Task Force report: Texas isn't doing enough to stop winter surge

the White House Coronavirus Task Force is pushing Texas and other states to consider shutting things down again.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 cases continue climbing in Texas. The state reported another 8,771 cases today. More than 9,000 Texans are hospitalized fighting COVID-19 too.

RELATED: Antibody tests show number of COVID-19 cases in Houston could be 4 times higher than reported

Experts like Dr. Peter Hotez fear it will get worse.

"Any indoor venue right now with a lot of people is a disaster," Hotez said. "That's going to really accelerate this."

It's why the White House Coronavirus Task Force is pushing Texas and other states to consider shutting things down again. In reports sent to the state last week, the Task Force writes: "Despite the severity of this surge and the threat to hospital systems, many state and local governments are not implementing the same mitigation policies that stemmed the tide of the summer surge; that must happen now."

"That makes a lot of sense that we're going to have to expand mitigation efforts," Hotez said. "But remember it's not in perpetuity. We just have to get people to the other side to get vaccinated."

The report says that includes a significant reduction in capacity or closing of public and private indoor spaces including restaurants and bars.

"I'm not confident masks alone can stop surges," Hotez said. "Once the virus really starts to accelerate, think of it as a train heading down the tracks. If it were going slowly, certain methods would stop it, but when it's going that fast, we're going to have to implement some aggressive social distancing."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Greg Abbott says he spoke with Dr. Deborah Birx and says she "commended" steps he's already taken and the Governor's Office points to El Paso's recent case decline as evidence it's all working.

But with positivity rates still rising in Houston and other major metro areas, local leaders wish they could do more.

"All of the other tools we've had in March and April, those have been taken away by the governor," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Turner said one option he still has is enacting a curfew if the spread worsens.

"That is like a nuclear option. It will hit the good players as well as the bad ones," Turner said. "So if I go in that direction, I need to see the numbers all moving in the wrong direction, but right now it's kind of mixed."

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