July 13, 2020 -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that he may be forced to lock down the state’s economy again if the rapidly spreading coronavirus cannot be curbed.
With more than 10,000 people hospitalized across the state and deaths rising fast, Abbott gave a series of interviews across Texas to spread a dire forecast.
“Things will get worse,” he said in an interview on KLBK . “The deaths that we’re seeing announced today and yesterday — which are now over 100 — those are people who likely contracted COVID-19 in late May” – not in June or July.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through the massive increase in people testing positive,” he said.
Abbott urged Texans to follow his July 2 executive order requiring face masks be worn in public in all Texas counties with over 20 positive COVID-19 cases. Many Republicans criticized the governor for the mask mandate, which he’d earlier refused to implement.
“The public needs to understand this was a very tough decision for me to make,” Abbott said in the interview. “I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19 … the next step would have to be a lockdown.”
Abbott aggressively reopened the state’s economy in May after two months of lockdown, allowing businesses to open their doors with social distancing guidelines. The number of cases quickly started rising, something Abbott party attributed to his decision to allow bars to reopen. He rejected calls to slow down the economic reopening.
Now Texas is one of the national hotspots.
The state has reported more than 230,000 cases and 2,900 deaths, with the state department of health reporting more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour period for the last few days. Hospitals are close to running out of beds for coronavirus patients.
Abbott announced that he’s been working with the Trump administration and additional federal resources are being sent to the Houston area.
The additional resources include an Urban Area Medical Task Force from the Department of Defense and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from Health and Human Services. These units will help the DOD’s Urban Area Medical Task Force operating in Bexar County and federal assessment teams in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, Laredo, and El Paso.
On Friday, he also extended a disaster declaration for a fifth time.
"Extending this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that Texas has the resources and flexibility needed to effectively respond to COVID-19," Abbott said. "To further mitigate the spread of the virus and overcome this challenge, Texans should continue to do their part by wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if possible."