LUBBOCK, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday there are a variety of reasons Texas won't have any more COVID-19 related lockdowns.
"There are now known severe medical consequences, emotional, mental-type consequences, as well as the devastating financial consequences," he said.
His comments come amid increased pressure by Texas Democrats to do more to stop the spread of the virus.
But the governor says the shutdowns aren't as effective as some think. "One of the most common ways COVID is spread today is not by someone going to work, but by people gathering together in-home settings or in-casual settings after bars close or something like that."
Instead of lockdowns, Abbott is relying on the framework he has already set in place.
Openings are scaled back when a region's hospitals reach a certain threshold of patients being treated for the virus.
That happens when the region's total hospital capacity has more than 15% as COVID-19 patients for seven days in a row.
Right now, the region is at 14%, with about 2,300 people hospitalized with the virus.
Abbott said, "Some local officials are not using the tools that are available to them to make sure they are taking every step they need. Just giving more tools won't mean anything."
The Texas Department of State Health Services says 20,113 Texans have died related to the virus.
During the news conference in Lubbock, a region hit hard by COVID-19 hospitalizations, the governor also touted a new antibody drug by Eli Lilly, now being distributed in Texas.
If given early enough to people with the virus, it can prevent them from becoming seriously ill. "We need the public to understand that they may qualify for this therapy that can both help your health but also help reduce the possibility of you needing to go to the hospital."
The governor also said the state will soon receive the antibody drug by Regeneron, which is what President Donald Trump praised after he received it to fight the virus.
Abbott also said the state is preparing to distribute the coronavirus vaccines as soon as they're made available.
The Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement Thursday afternoon, "Instead of implementing health and safety measures that would stop the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Abbott decided to tout a drug that doesn't get to the root of the source: ending the crisis as we know it. Governor Abbott has completely surrendered to the coronavirus crisis."
As one official said today, the best treatment is still prevention, and the governor repeated the need for people to wear masks properly and practice social-distancing and good hand hygiene.
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