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Governor Addresses COVID-19 Surge

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Virus “Spreading at an Unacceptable Rate”

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

TEXAS – On Monday afternoon, June 21, Governor Greg Abbott addressed the state of Texas concerning the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.

“We are here today to discuss the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Texas, as well as to discuss the ways Texans can – and frankly need – to step up and work collaboratively to respond to this increase,” the governor began.

Abbott said since the beginning of the pandemic, he had stressed several guidelines.

“First, decisions about COVID-19 will be based on data as well as advice from doctors. Second, COVID-19 remains a very fast spreading virus that will remain in Texas, the United States and across the entire world until treatments are available to mitigate. As a result we must find ways of returning to our daily routines while also co-existing with COVID-19,” he said.

“Third, Abbott continued, “our early goal was to slow the spread of the Coronavirus to prevent our hospitals from becoming overrun. We succeeded in that early goal by following the best practices to slow the spread. As a result, we did prevent our hospitals from becoming overrun. As we gather today, hospitals continue to have abundant capacity to treat patients with COVID-19. Fourth, as we opened up from stay-at-home policies, we initiated safety protocols to minimize the spread of COVID-19.”

The governor held up a manual he said contained the health and safety protocols for combatting the virus and said they were based on the core principles of staying-at-home, washing your hands, social distancing and the wearing of a facemask.

“These strategies have proven to be effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The fifth guideline Abbott highlighted was the plan he had implemented to avoid a return to stay-at-home policies, if the positivity or hospitalization rates get too high.

“Sixth, closing down Texas again will always be the last option,” he asserted.

Following the guidelines discussion, Abbott brought forward several points of data which indicated in the last half of May, the state averaged about 1,500 positive cases. In the past five days, however, the governor said Texas was averaging more than 3,500 cases.

The next area of date pertained to the positivity rate.

“The positivity rate has gone from about 4.5 percent in late May to almost nine percent today,” Abbott said as he pointed to a graph.

Abbott also discussed hospitalizations. He said during the last part of May, there were approximately 1,600 patients in the hospital for COVID-19 symptoms. In the last four days, However, Abbott said hospitalizations had increased to over 3,200.

“To state the obvious, COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas and it must be corralled,” Abbott said.

He quickly added there were several strategies to avoid shutting the state down once again. Abbott said the first thing was for Texans to follow the safety protocols of staying home, washing your hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask.

“Second, appropriate authorities are increasing enforcement. For example, the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) is shutting down overcrowded bars that are not in compliance. Counties are closing things like river park operations that have grown too crowded. Some authorities are requiring masks in congregated areas,” Abbott explained.

The third strategical prong was to increase testing in known hot spots, with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC) and the Texas National Guard.

“Fourth, we are working with hospitals to ensure they have the ability to treat anyone who tests positive for COVID-19,” he said.

The fifth part of the strategy to combat COVID-19, Abbott said, was the wearing of a mask.

“I know that some people feel that wearing a mask is inconvenient or an infringement of freedom. But, I also know that wearing a mask will help us keep Texas open. Not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID-19 to spread even more, risking people’s lives and ultimately leading to the closure of more businesses,” he said.

As he wrapped up his remarks, Abbott said his goal was “… to keep Texans out of hospitals and to reduce the number of Texans who test positive. COVID-19 hasn’t suddenly gone away but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it. Texans have already shown we don’t have to choose between jobs and health. We can have both. We can protect Texans’ lives while protecting their livelihoods. Together we can keep Texas safe. Together, we will keep Texas wide-open for business.”       

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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