Amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that everyone who goes to a state test site will receive a free set of three-layer surgical masks.
“Wearing a mask or facial covering in public is an effective way for Texans to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 transmission,” Abbott said in a statement. “I continue to urge all Texans to do their part by taking the necessary precautions that will reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our state.”
New COVID-19 infections broke the 5,000 mark on Tuesday for the first time, a week after they first topped 4,000 in a single day. The state’s test sites will now deliver sets of four free skins to everyone who tests.
TEXAS REACHES 5,000 NEW CASES OF CORONAVIRUSES FOR THE FIRST TIME As infections increase
Hospitalizations have also climbed to record numbers in the Lone Star state.
The recent increase even prompted the nation’s largest children’s hospital to begin admitting adult patients in Houston. Texas Children’s Hospital is taking over adults as the COVID-19 outbreak affects the city’s healthcare system.
As the outbreak grows, Abbott is encouraging residents to maintain social distance, wear masks, and practice good hygiene, in addition to following other health guidelines. It has resisted the idea of restoring business closings that have paralyzed the economy.
Still, it recently expanded local government control over health-related rules for outdoor gatherings within their jurisdictions, lowering the threshold from 500 to 100 people.
“COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and must be cornered,” he said earlier this week. “We have several strategies to reduce the spread without closing Texas again, but it is up to all of us to do our part to protect ourselves and others.”
He stressed that he wants “all Texans” to follow state health guidelines to try to suppress the spread of the virus.
“COVID-19 is not gone, but neither is our ability to stop its spread,” he said.
People looking to get tested may need a doctor’s referral, and insurance deductibles and copays may still apply, according to state health authorities.
You can find a map of test sites across the state here.
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Texas has seen more than 125,000 reported cases of the coronavirus, more than 2,200 deaths and an estimated more than 72,000 recoveries, according to the state health department.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with pre-existing conditions, the highly contagious virus can cause serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or death.
Associated Press contributed to this report.