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On Thursday, June 25, Texas set a new daily record of more than 47 deaths and nearly 6,000 coronavirus cases. While Texas was one of the first states to begin the reopening process, efforts to reopen have not effectively mitigated against viral spread and the current situation in Texas and in other states like Florida, who have seen similar issues, are reaching headlines nationwide. In response to this development in the crisis, Texas governor Greg Abbott has decided to halt reopening, explaining in a statement on Thursday last week that “this temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business." According to the statement, businesses that were previously allowed to open under the state guidelines can still "continue to operate at the designated occupancy levels and under the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.” These occupancy levels are now at 75% for indoor restaurants and 50% for indoor bars. Abbott has taken this approach anticipating that the state will not move backward in the reopening process while continuing to attempt to control the spread of the virus.
This halt in the reopening of Texas is also a response to the increased amount of hospitalization of COVID-19 patients. On June 14, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was at 2,287 but has now spiked to double this number. Moreover, for 13 days in a row, Texas has seen record hospitalizations. The spike in these cases has been connected to the increased amount of testing as well as the increasing percent of positive results. The increase of positive results can be attributed to the increased amount of testing in Texas, especially in state prisons and meatpacking plants. It was only towards the beginning of June when Texas began to test these sites that are responsible for a portion of this increase. However, the increase of positive tests cannot be attributed to the increased amount of testing alone. It’s mainly a result of the initial attempts to reopen the state too quickly, causing the number of cases in the state to continue to grow. The increased number of positive test results indicates that the virus is continuing to spread, and that Texas must continue to take action to stop the spread of COVID-19. Abbott, in his statement also called for citizens to keep themselves safe as a result of the failures of reopening, reiterating the recommendations that have been ubiquitous during the pandemic: "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." It is now up to states seeing recent spikes in cases like Texas to reevaluate reopening and safety, as acting accordingly will not only save lives in each state but will allow everyone to hope for a return to some kind of normalcy as soon as is truly safe.
Written by Megan Yee
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