Bars shut down, restaurants scale back
By Wesley Gardner
Gov. Greg Abbott reversed course on the reopening of the Texas economy last week following a surge of new daily cases and hospitalizations.
According to an executive order, bars throughout the state must again close their doors to customers outside of take-out orders that can include alcoholic beverages. Additionally, restaurants are now only allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Abbott’s order also shut down river-rafting trips, which Hays County officials have pointed to as a source of the swift rise in cases in their county, and banned outdoor gatherings of over 100 people unless local officials approve.
On Tuesday, Abbott issued an additional proclamation that suspends elective surgeries at hospitals in Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Webb counties to keep hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients.
“As these counties experience a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are committed to working alongside hospitals to help ensure that every COVID-19 patient who needs a bed will have access to one,” Abbott said during a press conference. “We are constantly monitoring the data at the local level and will continue to take precautionary action where it is necessary.”
Abbott continued to stress the importance wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
“I want to remind all Texans that each of us have a responsibility to help slow the spread of this virus, and I urge everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and stay home if possible,” said Abbott.
As of Tuesday, state officials have reported 153,011 positive cases, resulting in 2,403 deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The seven-day positivity rate, a data point officials have used to guide the state’s reopening, jumped to 14.1 percent on Tuesday. Abbott previously said he would consider scaling back the state’s reopening effort if that number breached 10.
Locally, Caldwell County now has 347 confirmed cases, resulting in two deaths. The Caldwell County Emergency Operation Center (EOC), has been activated at Level III capacity under the Texas COVID-19 Disaster Declaration for 105 days, marking the EOC’s longest run in the history of Caldwell County.
Last week, Lockhart mayor Lew White amended the city’s local disaster declaration to require residents and employees to wear face coverings inside businesses.
The VFW Post 8927 in Lockhart and the city of Dale had scheduled fireworks displays for the Fourth of July, though each event has now been cancelled.