To avoid having to reinstate a stay-at-home order, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued coronavirus guidance for residents to follow as the number of pandemic cases surges in the state.
‘To state the obvious, COVID-19 is spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas and it must be corralled,’ Abbott said Monday during a press conference.
On Monday, there were 3,280 confirmed cases reported in Texas, down from Sunday’s more than 3,800 reported cases. Saturday, however, had a record 4,430 reported cases, CBS News reported.
Gov. Greg Abbott issued new guidance for combating the spread of coronavirus as the number of cases spiked in Texas over the weekend. He’s pictured at the press conference Monday
Abbott encouraged hand washing, social distancing and the wearing of masks. He is seen wearing a mask as he leaves the press conference Monday
The Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission and other authorities would increase patrols of venues disregarding social distancing regulations and shut them down if overcrowded. An example of a venue that was closed for overcrowding over the weekend
A patient is seen being wheeled into Houston Methodist Hospital on June 22. Over the weekend, Texas saw a dramatic spike in confirmed coronavirus cases
Texas has seen a dramatic increase in confirmed coronavirus cases over the last 11 days
The number of coronavirus hospitalizations has also ramped up in recent weeks, although Abbott said ‘hospitals have abundant capacity to treat COVID-19’
The weekend’s coronavirus case load was a far cry from the state’s end of May numbers, when there were an average 1,500 new coronavirus cases a day.
Overall, the state’s coronavirus positivity rate has increased from 4.5 per cent in late May to more than nine per cent in recent days, Abbott said.
The recent positivity rate is twice what it was in late May, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The World Health Organization considers positivity rates above five per cent to be especially concerning.
As of Monday, the state has 3,711 people hospitalized with coronavirus, as Abbott said that ‘hospitals have abundant capacity to treat COVID-19.’
The increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations is believed to be attributed to spikes in the state’s biggest metro areas, such as Dallas and Houston.
Abbott urged all state residents to stay home, practice social distancing and frequent hand sanitizing.
He also encouraged all Texans to don masks, despite having banned local governments from making mask-wearing mandatory on June 3.
Abbott said that he is aware that ‘some people feel wearing a mask is inconvenient and an infringement of freedom.’
Priests are seen practicing social distancing at San Juan, Texas’ Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle on June 20 while attending a Priestly Ordination Ceremony
Theme park enthusiasts have their temperatures checked before entering Six Flag Fiesta Texas in San Antonio on June 19
Roller coaster riders at Six Flags Fiesta Texas are seen wearing masks as they enjoy the rides
‘Wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open, because not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking people’s lives and ultimately leading to the closure of more businesses,’ he said.
He said that he had started wearing a mask more frequently throughout June, than he did in May after seeing ‘additional scientific and medical data that has shown that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.’
As the number of coronavirus cases increased to record numbers over the last 11 days, officials in cities and counties including Dallas, Galveston, El Paso, Cameron, Hidalgo and Bexar instituted policies requiring store customers and employees to wear masks.
Additional measures that would be taken to slow the coronavirus spread, Abbott said, included increasing testing in hotspots and having authorities – including the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission – increase patrols of venues disregarding social distancing regulations and shuttering them if they’re overcrowded.
He said that he was also speaking with local leaders about limiting the sizes of gatherings, especially with July 4 celebrations on the horizon, according to The Hill.
Last week, Abbott had said that people under 30 made up a majority of new coronavirus cases in several Texas counties, which he thought could be related to young people going to Memorial Day parties, hitting bars or attending other gatherings.
From the beginning of the pandemic up through May 30, the median age of COVID-19 cases was 48, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aside from Texas, health officials and lawmakers in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi have also reported spikes in the number of people in their 20s and 30s getting infected with the virus.
Texas was one of the first states to reopen its economy, ending its stay-at-home order on April 30. It entered Phase 3 of reopening plan on June 3, allowing bars to open at 50 per cent capacity and restaurants at 75 per cent capacity.
The measures Abbott outlines Monday were aimed at avoiding ‘having to return to stay-at-home policies,’ he said, although he noted that ‘closing down Texas again will always be the last option.’
Should the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase as they over the last 11 days, however, he said ‘additional measures are going to be necessary to make sure we maintain the health and safety of the people of the state of Texas,’ according to CNBC.
He added that if the number of coronavirus cases in Texas were to double into July, ‘that would mean we’re in an urgent situation where tougher actions will be required to make sure that we do contain the spread of COVID-19.’