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A man checks out a display at the NRA annual meeting of members in Indianapolis in 2019. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association has canceled its annual meeting in Houston because of concerns about the rising rate of COVID-19 infections in Texas, the organization announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Texas, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a surge in cases driven by the highly-contagious Delta variant.

State of play: The NRA said it came to its decision after analyzing COVID-19 data from Houston's Harris County and consulting with "medical professionals, local officials, major sponsors and exhibitors," according to the statement.

  • "The NRA’s top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our members, staff, sponsors and supporters," read the statement. "We are mindful that NRA Annual Meeting patrons will return home to family, friends and co-workers from all over the country, so any impacts from the virus could have broader implications."

This is the second year in a row the meeting has been canceled, after last year's planned get-together in Nashville also was canceled. The organization said it looked forward to meeting in Louisville in May 2022.

The big picture: Some Texas hospitals are already out of ICU beds.

  • In the Houston area, the Memorial Hermann health care system recently announced that it would close three emergency centers "to free up staff for hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients," the Texas Tribune writes.
  • Harris County also recently approved up to $30 million of spending to hire out-of-state nurses to assist with the local COVID-19 surge, per the Tribune.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Harris County recently approved up to $30 million of spending for out-of-state nurses.

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2021 - Health

FDA will review Merck COVID-19 pill

The Merck logo. Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it will meet on Nov. 30th to review Merck's experimental oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment

Why it matters: An oral antiviral drug designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be a key tool to combat the pandemic. Merck ended its vaccine development in January.

23 hours ago - Sports

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he requires all employees to be vaccinated

Photo: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in a podcast Wednesday that he requires all of his employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Driving the news: Cuban's comments come the same week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday that prohibits COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any "entity," including employers.

Oct 14, 2021 - Health

FDA panel unanimously endorses Moderna boosters for certain populations

A pharmacist prepares to give a COVID-19 booster vaccination. Photo: Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Thursday endorsed boosters for Moderna recipients who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, occupational exposure to COVID-19 or are 65 years and older.

Why it matters: The unanimous decision mirrors the FDA conditions for those who qualify for a Pfizer booster.