Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked residents to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines, but offered little in terms of additional state action while speaking at a press conference Monday, which was called because almost all of the metrics Principles for detecting the spread of the coronavirus show that Texas is going in the wrong direction.
Texas has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and the percentage of tests that tested positive throughout the month of June, so far with no signs of slowing down; The number of hospitalizations set a new record Monday for 11 consecutive days.
“We are at a crucial time,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, head of the state Department of Health Services, adding: “Trends are increasing in a way that we really need to monitor.”
Still, Abbott offered little in terms of additional state government measures to stem the spread, and said he would not reverse the state’s reopening progress: “Closing Texas will always be the last option.”
Abbott did not indicate that he would implement any type of mandate to wear masks, a proposal that he has rejected on many occasions in the past, but urged anyone who leaves home to take personal responsibility and wear some form of face protection. .
The state continues to have broad hospital capacity overall, but ICUs in some of the state’s largest cities, especially Houston, are coming uncomfortably close to capacity.
Texas is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening, which has been one of the most ambitious reopening efforts in the nation; Restaurants can operate up to 75% of their normal capacity.
“Texans can and frankly need to step up collaboratively to respond to this increase,” Abbott said, then added: “To say the obvious, Covid-19 is expanding at an unacceptable rate in Texas and must be cornered.”
Abbott noted that the metrics began to point in the wrong direction around Memorial Day, which featured many large gatherings and crowds at popular vacation destinations, clearly ignoring patterns of social estrangement. Texas is joined by several other states, mainly in the south and west, which mainly have republican governors who were eager to reopen, registering a significant increase in cases throughout the month of June. In particular, large states like Florida and Arizona are also constantly establishing registries for new cases.
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Gatherings of 500 or more people will be allowed for the upcoming July 4 celebrations, Abbott said, unless localities take steps to restrict the size of those gatherings. Abbott said he is allowing local governments to make that decision if they deem it necessary.
Texas mayors ask Governor Abbott to be able to enforce face masks (Forbes)
‘This has to stop’: ICUs in Houston fill up after increasing hospitalizations for COVID-19 (Houston Chronicle)
Texas and Arizona continue to establish hospitalization records for coronavirus (Forbes)
Packed walks and parties in Wild Lake on Memorial Day weekend, as Birx cautions there should be ‘no more than 10 people’ at an outdoor gathering (Forbes)