Governor Greg Abbott is postponing further phases of reopening Texas and issued an Executive Order ceasing elective surgeries in certain counties in response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Abbott announced June 25 that the state will put the reopening on pause as Texas responds to a significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that are permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services, but Abbott encouraged all Texans to wear protective masks in public in light of the upsurge. More than 125,000 Texans tested positive for the coronavirus as of June 24, an increase of 5,551 people from the day before, according to The Texas Tribune, and 2,249 Texans have died from the virus, 187 more than just a week ago.
“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.”
Abbott’s office released the announcement at approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning, after issuing an Executive Order earlier the same day “to ensure hospital bed availability for COVID-19 patients as Texas faces an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” his office reported. The Governor’s order suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties. Under the order, Abbott directs all hospitals in those counties to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”
Through proclamation, the Governor can add or subtract from the list of counties included in the Executive Order to address surges in hospitalizations that may arise in other parts of the state, his office described.
“As Texas faces a rise in COVID-19 cases, we are focused on both slowing the spread of this virus and maintaining sufficient hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients,” Abbott said. “These four counties have experienced significant increases in people being hospitalized due to COVID-19 and today’s action is a precautionary step to help ensure that the hospitals in these counties continue to have ample supply of available beds to treat COVID-19 patients. As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing.”