June 26, 2020 -- With new coronavirus cases spiking in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday suspended elective surgeries in four hard-hit counties and paused the economic reopening of the state.
The state health department says there are 4,389 coronavirus patients hospitalized across Texas, up from 2,793 a week ago, NBC News reported. On Wednesday, Texas reported 5,500 new cases.
The problem is acute in Houston, in Harris County, where Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city had 1,000 new cases on Wednesday, according to TV station KTRK.
"The numbers are moving in the wrong direction, but we are asking people to do what we did early on and take this thing very seriously," Turner said.
Abbott’s proclamation suspends all elective surgeries in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties. He can add or subtract other counties as cases increase in other parts of the state.
“These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients,” Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott has aggressively reopened the state’s economy in phases, even as the number of COVID-19 cases increased. But on Thursday, he paused additional reopening phases, though he said businesses than have already reopened can stay open.
The move will help curb the spread of the virus while “allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families. The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses,” Abbott said. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”
Johns Hopkins University says Texas has reported more than 120,000 confirmed cases and over 2,200 deaths.