Gov. Abbott eases COVID-19 restrictions
By Wesley Gardner
Texas is mobbing forward with the reopening of businesses, allowing retail stores, gyms and restaurants to expand their capacities after a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over the summer started to decline.
Abbott said the state has been divided into 22 regions where officials will monitor hospital capacity and virus cases. In 19 of the 22 regions where COVID-19 patients are now less than 15 percent of all hospitalizations, more businesses that have been allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity will be permitted to increase to 75 percent capacity beginning Monday.
Expanded reopenings include “all retail stores, all restaurants, all office buildings, all manufacturing, all museums and libraries and all gyms,” said Abbott. Effective immediately, hospitals in those regions are allowed to resume elective procedures. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will be allowed to reopen for visitations beginning Sept. 24 as long as they don’t have a coronavirus outbreak.
“Since late July, the spread of COVID-19 has steadily and significantly declined. The number of new cases and new hospitalizations have been cut by more than two-thirds. Just yesterday we had the lowest number of hospitalizations in the past three months.”
Abbott noted that while the decline in the number of new cases is promising, he still urged Texans to use safety practices including wearing masks and social distancing.
“COVID does still exist and most Texans remain susceptible,” Abbott said during a news conference. “If we fully reopen Texas without limits, without safe practices, it can lead to an unsustainable increase in COVID that would require the possibility of being forced to ratchet back down.”
As of Wednesday, Texas had reported 4,186 daily new cases, based on a seven-day moving average, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
In Caldwell County, the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 1,458, including 223 that are active, resulting in 35 deaths.