Gov. Abbott warns of record-breaking 5,000 new COVID-19 infections for Texas
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday, June 22, 2020 said he has no plans to shut down the state again. "We must find ways to return to our daily routines as well as finding ways to coexist with COVID-19," Abbott said in a news conference at the State Capitol. "Closing down Texas again will always be the last option." (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP) Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell, MBR / Associated Press

Gov. Abbott warns of record-breaking 5,000 new COVID-19 infections for Texas

Texas added yet another record number of new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, as Gov. Greg Abbott urged people to wear masks and stay indoors whenever possible.

The state reported nearly 5,200 new cases, surpassing the previous high of 4,600 on Friday, according to a data analysis by Hearst Newspapers. The weekly rolling average hit 3,722 new cases per day, up from about 1,500 two weeks ago.

Infections have been surging across the state since Memorial Day and amid the reopening of business and recent police protests. Health officials say cases are particularly rising among young adults, who tend to have healthier immune systems than older Texans but are still susceptible to death or prolonged illness.

“We want to make sure everyone reinforces the best safe practices of wearing a mask, hand sanitation, maintaining safe distance, but importantly, because the spread is so rampant right now, there’s never a reason for you to have to leave your home unless you need to go out. The safest place for you is at your home.”

Gov. Greg Abbott

While the governor has sounded alarms this week about the surge, he has yet to mandate face coverings in public, or reverse any of his orders to reopen the Texas economy — bars remain open at 50 percent of maximum occupancy; restaurants can go up to 75 percent, provided they leave space between parties.

But Abbott has also warned that the dramatic increase in hospitalizations threatens those previous orders. There were 4,092 patients hospitalized with the virus on Tuesday, the twelfth straight day of record highs.

“If those spikes continue, additional measures are going to be necessary to make sure that we maintain the health and safety of the people of the state of Texas.”

Abbott said in a press briefing Monday

On Tuesday, the governor allowed local leaders to limit gatherings of 100 people and directed the state health agency to re-impose emergency safety standards that had been rolled back earlier this month on child care centers across the state. He has also authorized county judges to impose fines on businesses that don’t require their customers to wear face coverings.

Federal health experts testified Tuesday that they were closely monitoring the state’s surging numbers.

“Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, Arizona and many other states.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee

In Austin, Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, used similar language, warning the public that the state is at a “crucial point” in the fight against the virus as the trends go in the wrong direction.

“Please, Texas, Let’s heed the wise guidance that the governor has laid out.”

Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services

Dr. John Zerwas, a key medical adviser to Abbott during the pandemic, has requested workers in the medical field to add their names to a volunteer registry in the event hospitalizations continue to climb.

“Anybody that’s in the health care field that would like to put their name in there so in the event we need to start drawing on volunteers for additional efforts, this is the time to do that.”

Dr. John Zerwas, a key medical adviser to Abbott during the pandemic

Other key Republican officials have intensified their messaging as well. Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, issued a statement on Monday criticizing Republicans who are arguing that their freedom is in danger because they have to wear masks.

“It’s time to stand up to the mask naysayers who speak loudly but act irresponsibly as they destroy the liberty and freedom we ALL deserve.”

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton

Get Texans Back To Work

Get Texans Back To Work

I had the chance to discuss our state’s ongoing efforts to get Texans back to work while following medically-approved best practices including hand washing, sanitizing, social distancing and mask-wearing.

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