As the number of people hospitalized in Texas from the coronavirus surpassed 5,000 on Friday, Governor Greg Abbott said he should not have rushed ahead with reopening bars. The news comes as Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, said Friday that Texas is one of the two states with the largest increase in positive coronavirus cases as the country reported the highest single-day increase in new cases.
“If I could go back and redo anything, I would slow down the re-opening of bars,” Abbott told ABC affiliate KIVA in El Paso. Abbott added that a “bar setting, in reality, just doesn’t work with a pandemic.”
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” Abbott said in a news release Friday announcing he was shutting down the bars.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Friday that there has been a “paradigm shift” in the new cases of the coronavirus that is largely driven by young people. Abbott has previously said people between the ages of 18-40 are driving Texas’ surge.
A bartender wearing a facemask makes a drink at a restaurant in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2020. / Credit: SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images
Bars were first allowed to reopen in Texas on May 22 at 25% capacity and then it was increased to 50% on June 3.
But as the number of new cases of the coronavirus in Texas reached record highs this week, Abbott rolled back some of the state’s reopening. Abbott issued an order Friday that bars must shut down indefinitely and restaurants, which were allowed to open at 75% capacity, now had to reduce capacity to 50% capacity. Abbott told ABC affiliate KVUE in Austin that “if people do not follow the rules, that could lead to even more ratcheting back of the opening of businesses in Texas.”
On Friday, there were 5,707 new coronavirus cases in the state, according to the Texas Department of Public Health. It was a slight drop from the single-day record of 5,996 cases reported on Thursday. The numbers of new cases have been on the rise since May 26.
The number of people hospitalized has increased for 15 consecutive days as the state nears its ICU capacity. As of Friday, there were 1,284 ICU beds available, according to the Texas Department of Public Health. The number of people hospitalized increased to 5,102, the first time it topped 5,000.
In Houston, the state’s largest city, more than 10% of people being tested for COVID-19 are positive, according to Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department, CBS affiliate KHOU reports. That’s a 30% increase from three months ago.
Patrons at the West Alabama Ice House have beers before Texas Governor Greg Abbotts order that all bars are to be closed at noon today in Houston, Texas on June 26, 2020. / Credit: MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19 expert Dr. Peter Hotez warned if current trends continue at this pace, Houston could see 4,000 new cases a day by mid-July, KHOU reported. The city has hovered between 800 to 1,000 new cases a day this week.
Texas and Arizona have reported the largest increases in coronavirus cases, followed by Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada and Utah, Birx said Friday. Vice President Mike Pence will visit Texas and Arizona next week.
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