Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has paused Texas' efforts to reopen the economy after the state has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks, The Hill reported.
Abbott also halted elective surgeries to preserve hospital capacity and urged Texans to wear masks in public — although he has not issued an official order requiring people to do so.
"There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas," Abbott said Thursday.
While businesses that are already open and operating will not have to shut down, Abbott is pausing all further reopening temporarily in an effort to get the COVID-19 outbreak back under control.
"As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families," Abbott said in a statement. "The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business."
Texas' COVID-19 test positivity rate hit an average of 10.42% over the past seven days, and Abbott has said anything over 10% would be a "warning flag." There have been more than 5,000 new cases each of the past two days.
Some hospitals in Houston have seen a surge in COVID-19 patients, leading to a concern about capacity.
Still, although cases are increasing in Texas as testing becomes more widely available to people who are not seriously ill (if they have symptoms at all), the number of daily deaths in Texas has remained mostly flat, with a seven-day moving average of between 20 and 30 per day since mid-May. That seven-day average of daily deaths peaked on May 5 at 38.