AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Governor Greg Abbott halted elective operations in the major counties of Texas on Thursday, saying the state would “pause” its aggressive reopening as it deals with a wave of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that have made one of the virus hotspots of the nation.
The suspension of elective surgery is intended to protect the hospital space in the Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas. Across the state, the number of COVID-19 patients has more than doubled in two weeks. Texas has reported more than 11,000 new cases in the past two days alone.
The pause at further reopenings does not bring back previous orders, which meant that a large part of the economy could already be reopened. But it seems to be delaying the planned expansion of the occupancy rate in places like bars, restaurants and amusement parks and other locations.
“We are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while enabling Texans to continue to earn a salary to support their families,” Abbott said in a statement. “The last thing we want to do as a state is to go back and close businesses. This temporary pause will help our state make its spread more sustainable until we can safely enter the next stage of opening our state to business. ‘
By reintroducing a ban on elective operations, the Republican is returning to one of its first actions when the virus first surfaced in Texas in March. He later revoked the order during an aggressive state reopening in May, lifting lockdown orders for most of the US.
Abbott took a new urgent tone this week about deteriorating trends and is now telling the public to stay at home. On Thursday, hospital admissions rose to nearly 4,400 patients, setting a new record for the 13th consecutive day.
Abbott has also urged Texans to wear masks in public. The governor has not issued a statewide mask order, but the cities and counties of the state have placed new orders on companies to require customers and employees to wear face masks.
This story has been corrected to indicate that the number of hospital patients is almost 4,400 and not 4,700.
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