Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday the state is facing a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic and that greater restrictions may be necessary. Abbott made the comments during an interview with CBS affiliate KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas.
When asked if he still considered the Texas panhandle a “hot spot” for coronavirus infection, Abbott replied, “There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas.”
“Today will we have 5,000 people test positive, again, as well as more than 4,000 people hospitalized because of it,” Abbott told the station, though he noted that Amarillo was doing better than some other areas.
“We are looking at greater restrictions,” Abbott said, adding that some new restrictions could be localized to areas that are “running tight on hospital capacity.”
New restrictions would be a reversal of Texas’ reopening plan, which has been moving forward this month despite the continued increase in cases and hospitalizations.
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 capacity to 75% and almost all businesses allowed to operate with some safety measures in place.
On Monday, Abbott addressed the state’s surge in coronavirus cases, outlining a way for residents to combat the increase “without having to return to stay-at-home policies.” “To state the obvious, COVID-19 is spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas and it must be corralled,” Abbott said.
At the time, the governor said that “closing down Texas again will always be the last option,” but added that if the spike continues, “further action will be necessary.”
On Tuesday, there were 5,489 new cases in the state — even higher than the 5,000 Abbott mentioned in his interview. The total number of cases in Texas has surpassed 120,000, with at least 2,249 deaths, according to the state health department.
During his interview with KFDA-TV, Abbott said the state is also working to ensure businesses that have opened remain in compliance with safety measures. He said some bars have lost their liquor licenses for not following measures and getting overcrowded.
“We are making sure the rules are enforced so we are able to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
At this time, Abbott says he sees no reason to change the guidelines for salons and tattoo parlors. “As we have seen an increase in the number of people testing positive and hospitalizations, we’ve see various different reasons why. But we haven’t really heard as one of those reasons is what’s going on in hair salons and tattoo parlors,” Abbot said. “There are other areas like bars, for example, that do need different modifications that would be required.”
Texas is not the only state experiencing a dangerous increase in cases after reopening, CBS News Manuel Bojorquez reported. Florida topped 100,000 cases on Monday and Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged that increased testing alone can’t account for recent record numbers of new COVID-19 cases.
DeSantis said says he’ll crack down on businesses that don’t follow social distancing guidelines, but added he won’t change the state’s reopening plan or enact a statewide mandatory mask order.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS News he thinks “it’s really going to be a pivotal week for us to get a picture of where things are heading in states like Florida and Arizona and Texas, whether or not they’re tipping over into exponential growth or not.”
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