On Monday, Dr. Deborah Brix, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, called the winter surge of COVID-19 one of the worst events Americans will face in a year of worst events.

In a Dec. 6 Meet the Press interview, Dr. Brix said, “This not just the worst public health event; this is the worst event that this country will face, not just from a public health side.”

Dr. Brix’s predication comes at a time when, as of this writing Tuesday morning, the Texas DSHS dashboard reports 1.258 million cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 22,627 deaths. Harris County leads with nearly 198,961 cases and 3,067 deaths. Collin County has 29,554 cases and 277 deaths. 

Since December, the U.S. has added 1 million cases and surpassed 100,000 hospitalizations. This hospitalization increase is being felt all across North Texas with Collin, Denton, Dallas, and Tarrant surpassing the seven-day threshold of COVID-19 patients occupying more than 15% of area hospital beds. Only six ICU beds were available in Denton as of Dec. 4.

“We are at a critical point with COVID-19 in our county,” Denton County Judge Andy Eads said in a prepared statement. “We must honor the lives of those around us by wearing masks when around anyone we do not live with.”

On Friday, the CDC issued a new universal mask guideline, which came three days after CDC Director Robert Redfield announced the new quarantine guideline during a meeting with the White House coronavirus task force, CNN reported. 

The White House had been pushing for the quarantine change for several months now. It is unclear if President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will adhere to the recommendations or revert to the original quarantine guidelines. 

Under the original guidelines, CDC stated that 14 days was the recommended period of quarantine regardless if people had received a COVID-19 test. And then in July, they altered the recommendations for how long a person should quarantine after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to 10 days if they were no longer symptomatic. Last week, the CDC updated quarantine guidelines again to seven days if you received a COVID-19 test, 10 days if you don’t.

The Mayo Clinic reports that people usually develop COVID-19 symptoms between two and 14 days. It is unclear what has changed — other than pressure from the White House

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In September, CDC Director Redfield testified before a Senate subcommittee that wearing a face mask was the most effective away to combat COVID-19.

“… These face masks are the most important powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said.

President-elect Biden agreed. He plans to ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days when he takes office in January. And he’s not alone. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has been calling for universal mask wearing since July, according to a Dec. 7 MarketWatch report.

 Of course, some people believe that wearing a mask impedes their personal liberty regardless of how it may or may not affect their neighbors’ health. This belief was apparent in July at the Blue Ridge Rodeo. Yet, numerous reports — here, here, and here, for example — claim science supports mask efficiency at preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19, despite what social media memes may claim.

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting,” CDC Director Redfield said in a July 14 press release.

For more information about COVID-19 numbers in Texas visit the Texas DSHS dashboard.

Christian has been working as a freelance journalist in North Texas for more than a decade. His stories have appeared in the Dallas Observer, the Houston Press, and Rolling Stone magazine. He covers a...