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Leaders Of Major Texas Areas Asking For More Local Control During Coronavirus Surge

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Leaders in major areas of Texas are calling on the governor to empower local governments to order residents to stay home as the state's continued surge in coronavirus cases tests hospital capacity.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that he wants Gov. Greg Abbott to return control of his city to the local government as its hospitals face a potential crisis.

"If we don't change the trajectory, then I am within two weeks of having our hospitals overrun," Adler, a Democrat said. "And in our ICUs, I could be 10 days away from that."

Texas reported it's highest daily increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 8,258 Saturday, and hospitalizations from the virus have continued to climb.

The Fourth of July weekend has also seen some defiance of Abbott's orders closing bars and requiring people to wear face coverings in public in much of the state.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top county official in the Houston area, said she's grateful for the mask mandate but that a stay-at-home order is needed.

"We don't have room for incrementalism, we're seeing these kinds of numbers, nor should we wait for all the hospital beds to fill and all these people to die, before we take drastic action," Hidalgo told ABC's "This Week."

Houston has rapidly become one of the American cities hit hardest by the virus. In addition to strained hospital capacity, it needs help meeting the demand for testing, Mayor Sylvester Turner told CBS' "Face The Nation" Sunday.

Over the last month, the proportion of tests that come back positive for the virus has rocketed from about one in 10 to nearly one in four, Turner said.

In the face of the city's rising infection rate, Texas' Republican party leadership last week affirmed plans to hold its in-person convention in Houston. And not all Texans are following measures meant to limit the virus' spread over Independence Day weekend.

People flocked to cookouts and lakes to celebrate Saturday, with some not wearing masks or appearing to keep a safe distance from others. In Fort Worth, a bar was given a warning from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission after opening for an event.

On June 27, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he sent a letter to Abbott requesting actions such as another "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order and closing restaurants except for takeout and outdoor seating. In the letter, Jenkins said if the governor cannot enact these, then he's asking for the ability to order them locally.

Adler said the lack of unified public health messaging is endangering Texans, and expressed outrage over President Donald Trump's statements this week that the virus could "just disappear."

"And when they start hearing that kind of ambiguous message coming out of Washington, there are more and more people that won't wear masks, that won't social distance, that won't do what it takes to keep a community safe," the mayor told CNN. "And that's wrong, and it's dangerous."

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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