After becoming one of the earliest states to reopen its economy, Texas could be looking at taking a major step backward if the rapid increase in coronavirus cases continues.
As the number of coronavirus cases in Texas continues to rise sharply, Gov. Greg Abbott warned that the state may need to head back into lockdown. As The Texas Tribune reported, Abbott warned on Friday that conditions were continuing to worsen and people across the state have not abided by his mandate to wear masks in public.
He noted that the deaths from COVID-19 today reflect those who contracted the virus in late May, meaning that another increase in deaths could be headed in the coming weeks as a result of the recent surge in positive cases.
Abbott again emphasized the importance of wearing a mask in public, even though he made it clear it was a “very tough decision” for him to issue the mandate. However, he warned that if people were not willing to put on masks in public — and if cases continued to rise as they have in the last few weeks — they may need to move back into lockdown.
“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,” he said in an interview with KLBK.
Abbott had already come under criticism at the time the state announced that it would be allowing many non-essential businesses to reopen at the start of May. Texas had reached one-day highs in both reported cases and deaths just ahead of the reopening, and weeks later, the state saw another surge in cases.
In recent weeks, Abbott has taken steps to slow the spread of the virus. On Friday, he extended the Disaster Declaration that was first put in place on March 13, allowing Texas to move resources to the hardest-hit areas.
In making the announcement, the governor again stressed the importance of wearing a mask and taking proper social distancing precautions.
“Extending this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that Texas has the resources and flexibility needed to effectively respond to COVID-19,” Abbott said, via NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. “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.”