(CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — Eighty-five infants under age 1 have tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county. And local officials are imploring residents to help stop its spread as the state becomes one of the newest hotspots.
Since January, health authorities have identified more than 3.6 million COVID-19 cases throughout the United States. Nearly 140,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Texas’ Nueces County, where Corpus Christi is located, the number of new coronavirus cases skyrocketed in July after a flattening trend. The virus has infected dozens of babies and local officials are urging people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“We currently have 85 babies under the age of one year in Nueces County that have all tested positive for COVID-19,” said Annette Rodriguez, director of public health for Corpus Christi Nueces County.
“These babies have not even had their first birthday yet. Please help us stop the spread of this disease.”
She did not provide additional details on their conditions.
Nueces County has the fastest growth in new cases on the seven-day average than any other metropolitan county in the state,” said Peter Zanoni, the Corpus Christi city manager.
“You can see the trend line is relatively flat until July, and this is where we have had that huge spike in cases, and this is why it’s turned into a major problem for Nueces County,” he said.
Corpus Christi has about 8,100 coronavirus cases and 82 deaths linked to the virus, local officials said. Other Texas counties such as Cameron and Hidalgo are so dire, health officials are stocking up on refrigerated trucks to store bodies as morgues fill up.
In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, state representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Joaquin Castro said that local jurisdictions should be granted the ability to issue stay at home orders to help contain coronavirus cases.
“Texas is now not where it should be relating to fighting COVID-19. Therefore, your office should take immediate action to rewind the efforts to reopen the state quickly; which came about by ignoring CDC guidelines,” the letter said. “We need to provide local authority to local counties and cities to do what is in the best interest of their communities.”
Late last month, Abbott halted reopening efforts in response to the surge in cases throughout the state. Bars were forced to shut down for the second time during the pandemic and restaurants were rolled back to a 50% limited capacity.
With the 2020-2021 school year approaching, leaders in the state have focused efforts on how schools will be reopening amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Texas Education Agency said Friday that schools will be able to begin their school year virtually for at least the first four weeks.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN Wire contributed to this report. The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report. All rights reserved.)