As Texas hits all-time high in new COVID-19 cases, Gov. Greg Abbott tightens outdoor gathering rules

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott sternly warned Texans of “rampant” spread of coronavirus that took the state to a new high Tuesday of more than 5,000 new cases in a single day.

Saying Texans should stay home unless they have a good reason to venture out, Abbott late Tuesday afternoon gave local officials more powers to limit public gatherings during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

He expanded the ability of mayors and county judges to restrict outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people — down from the previous limit of more than 500 people in outdoor gatherings.

On KENS-TV in San Antonio late Tuesday, Abbott made it clear it will be up to cities and counties to decide whether face coverings will be required at mass gatherings.

“I did authorize local officials to have the authority to establish regulations in gatherings of 100 or more people,” he said. “This was intended to allow local authorities in particular to regulate gatherings for Fourth of July celebrations. We did not specify what restrictions or regulations they could impose. It’s possible they could require masks in such an environment. It’s going to be up to local officials in that regard.”

Abbott also told the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to enact emergency rules that provide strict health and safety standards and procedures related to COVID-19 for child care centers in Texas.

After about eight weeks of reopenings, the moves were a shift for Abbott, who’s also adopted a more urgent tone in his public pronouncements this week.

“These are just some of the steps Texas will take to contain the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Abbott said in a written statement. “I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands often and staying six feet apart from others.”

Source: Dallas News