The state of Texas recorded its highest one-day increase in coronavirus deaths late on Thursday, just hours before the state’s stay-at-home order ended and some parts of the economy were set to reopen.
As Texas Monthly reported, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 50 new deaths from COVID-19 in the state, the largest day-over-day increase. The state also reported more than 1,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus for the second time.
The data was released close to eight hours before the state’s stay-at-home order expired on May 1, with Governor Greg Abbott announcing earlier in the week that the state would move forward with plans to gradually lift lockdown orders. As the report noted, Abbot’s plan allowed a number of businesses to reopen on Friday at 25 percent capacity, including retail stores, restaurants, malls, and movie theaters.
The report noted that Abbot’s plan does not appear to have widespread support, with polls showing that 78 percent of Texas residents are worried about being in close proximity to others amid the pandemic.
While Texas Monthly noted that the daily increase in deaths was still relatively small, there was no data that indicates it is a safe time to start lifting lockdown measures.
“The uptick is a reminder that, as the state is set to open up, nothing about our ability to contain or control the spread of COVID-19 in Texas has changed since lockdown orders began in cities across the state in mid-March,” the report noted. “There’s still no treatment that’s proven effective.”
Despite the increasing number of deaths, some Texas officials have expressed optimism that the virus is under control. Abbott said this week that two important indicators, the infection rate and the hospitalization rate, have both gradually decreased since peaking in the first two weeks of April.
Abbott did not appear to be backing away from plans to start reopening the state on Friday, saying in an interview that there were still positive signs that indicated it could be safe to start opening businesses.
“All the key metrics are going in the right direction, and that is exactly why the doctors advised us that we had the green light to open up to the extent we are opening up,” Abbott told The Texas Tribune on Thursday evening after the most recent numbers were released.
A number of states have already started to reopen some parts of the economy, with Georgia already moving to allow some businesses to start reopening.