Governor urges residents to follow safety protocols

Gov. Greg Abbott Monday provided an update on Texas’ continued response to COVID-19. Abbott discussed several steps the state is taking to mitigate the spread of the virus in recent weeks—including increasing enforcement of health and safety regulations, rapidly increasing testing in hot spots, and working with hospitals throughout the state to ensure they have the ability to treat Texans who test positive for COVID-19.

Abbott urged Texans and Texas businesses to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols established by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as Texas continues to safely and strategically open the economy.

“COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and it must be corralled,” said Governor Abbott. “We have several strategies to reduce the spread without shutting Texas back down, but it is up to all of us to do our part to protect ourselves and others. We need all Texans to follow the safety protocols developed by our team of medical experts, including staying home if you are sick or at risk, sanitizing your hands, social distancing, and wearing face coverings or masks. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it. Texans have shown that we don’t have to choose between jobs and health—we can have both. We can protect lives while also restoring livelihoods. Together, we will keep Texans safe and we will keep our state open for business.”

The Governor was joined by Dr. John Hellersted, his medical point person for the pandemic and head of the Texas Department of State Health Services, physician and former state Rep. John Zerwas, who is executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the University of Texas System and an Abbott adviser, and Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Charts showing trend lines for hospitalization, daily new cases and the positivity rate all showed a flattening until about Memorial Day after which all three began to spike.

“To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas,” Abbott said, adding later “If those spikes continue, additional measures are going to be necessary.”

Abbott said he has no immediate plans for a second shutdown of businesses, saying “Closing down Texas again will always be the last option.”

Abbott aggressively endorsed the use of mask by people in public settings. He mentioned an unnamed person in the hospitality industry who did not want to wear a mask and said he told the person that doing so could make the difference between keeping his business operating or perhaps closing down. The governor said the man came away convinced.

“When you go out, you should wear a face covering or mask,” Abbott said, adding later, “I also know that wearing a mask will help us keep Texas open,” he said.

He said the more aggressive tone on masks now is because of the spike. No need to push it, he said, when the trend lines were flattening.

Hellerstedt said the spike in cases puts Texas “at a very crucial point in time.” He called on Texans “to recover what I feel is a sense of community,” when people seemed more agreeable to making sacrifices to limit the virus spread.

Bowie County Emergency Operations Center reports Monday a total of 232 positive COVID-19 cases, with 119 recoveries and 15 related deaths. Cass County has a total 35 cases with 31 recoveries, and two deaths. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reports 0 active positive case at the Barry B. Telford Unit.

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