SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) -Governor Greg Abbott is sounding the alarm ahead of the Fourth of July holiday as COVID-19 cases continue to soar, but he said “Closing down Texas again will always be the last option. ”
Abbott said his response to the pandemic has been based on scientific data and advice from health professionals. He pleaded with Texans to wear masks and follow the other protocols and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep the virus from spreading.
“I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or that it is like an infringement of freedom, but I also know that 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,” said Abbott.
He noted that the the daily number of people testing positive during the last half of the month of May was about 1,500, but for the first half of June, those numbers more than doubled to 3,500 positive cases a day. Abbott also pointed out that the positivity rate–the percentage of positive cases compared to the number of people tested–has risen from about 4.5 percent in late May to almost 9 percent today. The governor says the number of COVID_19 patients in hospitals also doubled to 3,200. While declaring that Texas has an abundant number of hospital beds available, he said he spoke hospital administrators will postpone elective surgeries if the number of coronavirus patients continues to climb.
“COVID-19 is spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas and it must be corralled,” said Abbott. “If we were to experience another doubling of those numbers over the next month, that would mean that we are in an urgent situation where tougher actions will be required to make sure that we do contain the spread of COVID-19.”
While touting the benefits of wearing a mask to keep from spreading the virus, Abbott is not making it a statewide requirement. He says some of the 254 counties in Texas have very low numbers or no coronavirus cases at all. In those areas, face coverings are not required, but San Antonio and Bexar County have ordered businesses that provide services or goods, to require employees and customers to wear masks.
“Maintaining a level of flexibility is important in a state the size of Texas with 254 counties, but with an emphasis wherever possible, to make sure that the right strategies are in place to make sure that we are slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Abbott.