As coronavirus cases in Texas continue to skyrocket, Governor Greg Abbott warned Friday that he may have to implement a lockdown if the numbers don’t come down. The governor has reiterated several times this week that his statewide mask order must be followed.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive,” Abbott told CBS News affiliate KLBK-TV. “The only way that we can keep our businesses open, the only way that we can continue to have a job they need to pay their bill is for everyone to adopt this practice of wearing a face mask.”
In Texas, the number of coronavirus patients who are hospitalized has quadrupled in the last month to nearly 10,000, CBS News’ Mireya Villarreal reported. The state surpassed 240,000 confirmed cases on Friday, and has seen more than 3,000 deaths.
Abbott reiterated that the virus is not only an issue in big cities like Houston, but throughout the entire state.
If the mask order is not followed, he said the next step is a “lockdown.”
“The public needs to understand that this was a very tough decision for me to make,” Abbott continued. “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.”
“The last thing I want to do, the last thing anybody in Texas wants to do, is to see another lockdown,” he said. “Hence, the best thing everybody can do, is do this thing that is inconvenient, of wearing a face covering, knowing that it will keep your jobs open, your economy open and your businesses open.”
Last week, Abbott reversed his stance and made masks mandatory statewide. He also limited gatherings of more than 10 people. On Monday, Abbott blasted local leaders for how they have reacted to his order, after a growing number of state sheriffs refused to enforce it.
“All of those local officials who are asking Texas to shut back down — they’ve absolutely refused to enforce the current executive orders that are already in place,” he told CBS News affiliate KFDM. “What they need to show is action, not absenteeism. They need to show up, enforce the law as it is, before they’re given any further authority. They ask for more and more, but they do absolutely nothing.”
Late Friday night, Abbott announced that the Trump administration is sending additional federal resources to combat coronavirus in the Houston region, including an Urban Area Medical Test Force and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team.
“Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our fellow Texans,” Abbott said in a press release. “We will continue to work with our local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met throughout the state.”
More than 63,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Thursday – another all-time, single-day high for new confirmed infections. Three of the hardest-hit states — California, Texas and Florida — just recorded their highest daily death tolls yet.
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