Texas halts reopening amid surge in coronavirus cases
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday that the state's reopening has been halted. "The State of Texas will pause any further phases to open Texas as the state responds to the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations," reads a press release from the governor's office.
"As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families," Abbott said.
Businesses that were already permitted to open under the state's previous phases of reopening can "continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services," according to the statement.
"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business," Abbott said.
The governor also suspended elective surgeries in four counties over concerns about hospital space. They are Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties. An executive order directs all hospitals there to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary.
Texas' shutdown began on March 31 when Abbott signed an executive order directing people to minimize social gatherings and in-person contact with people outside the home. In mid-May, some non-essential businesses, like gyms and wedding venues, were allowed to begin reopening at 25 % capacity, and hair salons were allowed to reopen with social distancing measures in place.
On June 12, the state entered its third phase of reopening, which allowed some non-essential businesses, such as restaurants, to reopen at 75% capacity.
"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe," Abbott said when the new phase was announced on June 3, CBS Dallas Fort Worth reported.
The state now has almost twice as many people hospitalized with COVID-19 as it did on June 14, when the number was at 2,287. This spike occurred after restaurants were allowed to increase their capacity, and almost all businesses were allowed to operate with some safety measures in place.
This week Abbot said "there is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas."
The governor on Thursday urged all Texans "to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others."
"The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business."
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