Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Thursday that the state will pause further reopening phases in light of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging.
Businesses that reopened under previous phases can continue to remain open.
“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,” Abbott said in a statement. “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.”
Earlier Thursday, Abbott suspended elective surgeries “that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient” at hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties in an effort to ensure hospital bed capacity.
Abbott’s announcement comes a day after he warned that Texas was facing a “massive” COVID-19 outbreak as new coronavirus cases exceeded 5,000 and more than 4,000 hospitalizations.
“There is a massive outbreak of COVID-19 across the state of Texas,” Abbott said in an interview with KFDA-TV in Amarillo on Wednesday.
The Texas governor, who aggressively pushed to reopen the state last month, said that in light of rapid rise of new coronavirus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations, “we are looking at greater restrictions and some could be localized.”
“There are some regions in the state of Texas that are running tight on hospital capacity that may necessitate a localized strategy to make sure that hospital beds will be available,” Abbott said on Wednesday.
Abbott’s pause on reopening comes amid spikes in coronavirus cases in more than half of the states in the country, three months after COVID-19 lockdowns were implemented.
In addition to Texas, Florida and Arizona have emerged as coronavirus hot spots.
On Tuesday, Arizona hit new records by reporting more than 3,500 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths. Although the number of new coronavirus cases dropped to 1,795 the following day, the number of fatalities nearly doubled to 79.
Florida, which is set to host the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville in late August, hit a new record for daily new cases on Wednesday, which surpassed its previous record set over the weekend. The Sunshine State reported over 5,500 new cases. Since June 1, Florida has not reported less than 1,000 new coronavirus cases per day.