As thousands more Texans tested positive for the new coronavirus over the weekend and the state has reported 10 consecutive days of record-high hospitalizations, Gov. Greg Abbott said he will not be issuing an order mandating Texans to wear face masks in public, but encouraged Texans to wear one.
During a press conference in Austin, Abbott addressed the spiking number of COVID-19 cases recorded across the state, and said state officials’ goal is to keep Texans out of hospitals.
As of Monday afternoon the Texas Department of State Health Services has recorded 111,601 cases of COVID-19 in the Lone Star State, with a total of 2,182 deaths.
Abbott’s shifted his earlier position against the use of face masks and said that, “Wearing a mask will help us keep Texas open.”
Abbott said the respiratory disease has not gone away, “but neither has our ability to protect Texas lives while restoring our livelihoods.”
The Texas governor reiterated his position to keep Texas wide open for business, but said that a month from now state officials will reevaluate the situation, and if the number of cases are doubling, additional measures will be enforced.
Questioned regarding his new position on the use of face masks, Abbott said in mid-May the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas was much lower, but the situation has rapidly evolved.
Abbott said the state has strategies to address the pandemic without having to return to stay-at-home policies, but he didn’t elaborate on such policies.
He emphasized guidelines encouraging people to stay home as much as they can, use hand sanitizer, keep social distancing, and to wear a mask.
Abbott also said the state is stepping up enforcement of places like bars, where large crowds have gathered, and working with hospitals to ensure they have enough beds for coronavirus patients.
The governor urged Texans and Texas businesses to follow the Minimum Standard Health Protocols established by the Texas Department of State Health Services to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as Texas continues to safely and strategically open the economy.
“COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and it must be corralled,” Abbott said.
“We need all Texans to follow the safety protocols developed by our team of medical experts, including staying home if you are sick or at risk, sanitizing your hands, social distancing, and wearing face coverings or masks. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but neither has our ability to slow the spread of it. Texans have shown that we don't have to choose between jobs and health—we can have both. We can protect lives while also restoring livelihoods. Together, we will keep Texans safe and we will keep our state open for business.”