Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday ordered bars to shut down — again — and restaurants to reduce their capacity to 50 percent, amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Lone Star State.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in a news release. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Abbott’s announcement comes after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared in a Fox News interview on Thursday night, “We’re not stepping backwards.”
“We’re not stepping backwards,” @DanPatrick said on @FoxNews last night.
Abbott shared similar sentiment in TV interviews after announcing “pause” in reopening yesterday. But obviously situation changing quickly… https://t.co/hDDQPL8mRQ— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) June 26, 2020
The Texas Tribune reports: Before Abbott’s announcement Friday, bars were able to operate at 50% capacity and restaurants at 75% capacity. Abbott’s actions Friday were his first significant moves to reverse the reopening process that he has led since late April. He said Monday that shutting down the state again is a last resort, but the situation has been worsening quickly. … Texas saw another record number of new cases Thursday — 5,996 — as well as hospitalizations — 4,739. The hospitalization number set a record for the 14th straight day.
On Thursday, Abbott announced the state would pause any further reopening, and banned elective surgeries in four counties to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients.
NPR reported: In San Antonio, ventilator availability dipped below 70% for the first time on Wednesday, Texas Public Radio reported. In Houston, one hospital’s ICU reportedly was at 120% capacity, while another one’s was at 88%. Texas Medical Center in Houston said Tuesday that 97% of its ICU beds were occupied and that 27% of those patients were people who had tested positive for the coronavirus. It said its normal ICU occupancy is 70% to 80%. On Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the medical center has reached 100% of its ICU capacity.