Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state to slow down the reopening process for bars and other venues as coronavirus-related infections, hospitalizations and deaths continued to increase in Texas last week.
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10%, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said. “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 ordered bars and other state-licensed establishments that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages to close at noon on Friday, June 26, but allowed them to continue offering delivery and take-out services until further notice.
The governor allowed restaurants, beginning Monday, June 29, to remain open for dine-in service but at a capacity not to exceed 50% of total listed indoor occupancy.
Also notably, the governor ordered rafting and tubing businesses to close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people obtain the approval of local governments before the event.
While stopping short of issuing a statewide order for Texans to wear nose-and-mouth-covering masks in public, Abbott did say every Texan “has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public and stay home if they can.”
Meanwhile, after news that the Trump administration planned to cut funding for COVID-19 testing stations in Texas and other states, Abbott announced that the federal government had granted his request to extend operations of community-based testing sites across Texas.
The expansion is aimed particularly at Dallas and Houston, where the spread of the deadly, influenza-like disease surged in recent days.
In related news, Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday, June 25, prohibiting elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties.
The order, intended to make more hospital beds available to potential influxes of COVID-19 patients, directs all hospitals in those counties to postpone surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary.
Cumulative figures posted on Sunday, June 28, by the Texas Department of State Health Services showed some 148,728 COVID-19 cases reported and 2,393 confirmed deaths resulting from the disease in the Lone Star State.