In a Monday afternoon update, Governor Greg Abbott expressed tempered alarm over the state’s COVID-19 trends.
Texas’ positive test and hospitalization numbers are increasing, going from 1,500 to 3,500 new cases per day from May to today and 1,600 to 3,200 new hospitalizations per day.
The state’s positive testing rate has gone from four percent in May to nine percent today.
However, Texas hospitals still remain well-equipped to handle new cases both with abundant bed capacities and personal protective equipment reserves.
Testing rates continue apace at 32,000 per day.
COVID-19 deaths, while increasing in number, remain low in rate at about two percent of known cases.
But the deaths reported each day are not incredibly reliable as contemporary information due to delays in reporting have caused deaths from a month ago to be counted towards a death count much later.
While stressing that closing Texas is the absolute last resort, Abbott added, “If these spikes continue, additional strategies will be necessary.”
He also emphasized the importance of “maintaining flexibility” for different, and variously populated, parts of the state.
One of the responses to the post-reopening increase by the state and local governments is to reimplement mask orders. After renewed pushes from local officials to institute mask requirements, Abbott appeared to change his tune on mask requirements. He asserted that his order allows localities to mandate businesses require masks for their patrons, just not a mandate placed on the general public.
Abbott, addressing critics of the policy, stated Friday, “I know some think wearing a mask is inconvenient and a violation of their freedoms, but wearing a mask will help keep Texas open. [It] is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
On an unrelated, but also hot topic in Texas, Abbott was asked about the Empower Texans hot mic recording in which two staffers, while criticizing Abbott’s handling of COVID-19, spoke profanely about the governor and made insulting comments about his being wheelchair confined.
Abbott responded, “It reveals a lot about an organization’s morals and character to speak in vulgarity like that and joke about someone in a wheelchair, and I think the public should judge that organization and the positions it takes through the lens of the people who act that way.”
After the audio leaked, Michael Quinn Sullivan, CEO of the organization, released a statement of disappointment in his staffers and offered a personal apology to the governor.
Texas began methodically reopening in May and most places of business are currently allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, if not more.
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Brad Johnson is 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 watching and quoting Monty Python productions.