The governor of Texas hit the brakes on reopening his state Thursday as hospitals were inundated with “an explosion” of new COVID-19 cases and officials warned there might not be enough beds available.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”
Abbott urged “all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly and socially distancing from others.”
“The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business,” he said.
The surprise statement from Abbott came shortly after he issued an executive order designed to free up more beds in the state’s four biggest counties by postponing “all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary.”
Not long after that, Texas Medical Center in Houston reported all its ICU beds were now occupied.
But the grim news was not just limited to Texas as the U.S. saw a record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, with 45,557 reported Wednesday, according to a tally by NBC News. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that could be an undercount.
Southern and Western states like Arizona and Florida that began aggressively reopening around Memorial Day are now seeing staggering spikes that make clear the deadly virus is showing no sign of going away, as President Donald Trump has repeatedly predicted.
Overnight, Florida added 5,004 new COVID-19 cases and the state’s death toll climbed to 3,327. Arizona reported 3,056 new cases and 27 additional deaths Thursday.