Bars, specifically, are still prohibited from reopening.
Abbott lauded the progress made since July on case and hospitalization numbers. He focused especially on hospitalizations, stipulating that if 15 percent or more of a region’s hospitalizations are due to coronavirus, they will be prohibited from the expanded reopening.
In the past, that metric Abbott identified was set at a 10 percent case positivity rate. But now, for specific hospital regions, the new reopening limits will be governed by that 15 percent metric. The governor added that any hospital region registering above that rate will not be able to reopen to the new limits.
The three hospital regions currently qualifying for this prohibition are Laredo, the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Victoria. Once they drop below 15 percent for a continuous seven days, the expansions will be extended to them.
As of September 21, the other 19 hospital regions will be able to expand reopening levels.
Other expansions include the recommissioning of elective surgeries and the reopening of nursing homes for visitation.
Nursing home visitation may resume, in those 19 districts, as of September 24.
Abbott stated that a driver of this reopening expansion is that Texas’ new case and hospitalization totals have been cut by two-thirds since July.
“The biggest reason for these improvements is that Texans are taking precautions by social distancing and wearing masks when around others. Personal vigilance is the best way to keep numbers down,” he added.
Texas’ unemployment rate has dropped from its April peak of over 13 percent down to eight, but millions continue to struggle as their businesses have operated, generally, at half-capacity. Many, like bar owners, have been outright prohibited from opening.
Most COVID-19 deaths, Abbott specified, are among those aged 70 and above. Half of those are over 80 years old.
Furthermore, Texas will continue to receive millions of 15-minute coronavirus tests per month.
The statewide mask mandate remains in effect.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.