During the last half of May, there were about 1,500 positive cases confirmed daily and about 1,600 hospitalizations daily. Within the last five days, Abbott said the state has seen more than 3,500 new cases and 3,200 hospitalizations daily.
“To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled,” Abbott said during the press conference.
Additionally, the testing positivity rate is nearly 9%—up from about 4.5% in late May, he said. Abbott said part of the state’s strategy to slow this continued spread includes ramping up testing efforts in regions considered “hot spots.”
According to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, there are about 32,000 tests conducted statewide daily with 840 testing sites operating.
“Our goal is to keep Texans out of hospitals and to reduce the number of Texans who test positive,” Abbott said. “COVID hasn’t suddenly gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it.”
Officials said COVID-19 patients still make up a minority of patients in hospital beds across the state, and Abbott said hospitals still have an abundance of capacity to treat incoming patients.
Abbott said should cases continue to rise at the same rate officials have seen in recent days, tighter restrictions would be necessary to contain the virus.
“Closing down Texas again will always be the last option,” he said.
While the governor is not requiring Texans to wear face masks in public at this time, he noted some authorities are requiring masks to be worn in congregated areas and encouraged all residents to wear them.
“I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or that it’s like an infringement of freedom, but I also know that wearing a mask will help us to keep Texas open,” he said. “Because not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking people’s lives and ultimately leading to the closure of more businesses.”
In addition to wearing face coverings, he said residents should continue to sanitize their hands frequently and maintain safe distances from others. Those who are sick or at risk should stay home, he said.
At this time, restaurants are permitted to operate at 75% capacity with up to 10 diners per table, amusement parks and carnivals can operate at 50% capacity, and bars can operate at 50% capacity as long as patrons are seated.
“COVID-19 remains a very fast-spreading virus that will remain in Texas, the United States and across the entire world until treatments are available to mitigate it,” Abbott said. “As a result, we must find ways to return to our daily routines while also learning ways to coexist with COVID-19.”
More information about state restrictions and health care guidance can be found at www.open.texas.gov.