Texas Governor Says State Will ‘Pause’ Further Reopening Amid Surge in Coronavirus Cases

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the state will “pause” any further reopening of its economy for now, a day after he said that Texas is facing a “massive outbreak” of the coronavirus.

The state reported a record-high number of new cases on Thursday: 5,996. It’s the third day in a row with a record number of new cases. Texas also saw 47 new fatalities, bringing the cumulative number of deaths related to COVID-19 there to 2,296.

“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” Abbott said in a statement Thursday morning. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”

Texas was among the first states to begin the process of reopening, and many businesses are in operation once again. Those businesses that are already permitted to be open may continue to operate under the existing health protocols and capacity restrictions. Bars and restaurants have already opened for indoor seating, and gymsmalls and movie theaters have been allowed to open, too.

Nearly 90,000 Texans filed for unemployment last week, NPR member station KUT reported — about 5,480 ​fewer new claims than the previous week.

Abbott also halted elective surgeries in four of the state’s largest counties. That move is aimed at expanding hospital capacity as the spike in hospitalizations threatens to overwhelm intensive care units and outstrip available ventilators.

His order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties — home to the respective cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin. It directs hospitals in those counties to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”

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SOURCE: NPR, Laurel Wamsley