Gov. Greg Abbott loosens restrictions on certain businesses as COVID-19 hospitalizations decrease

Gov. Greg Abbott addresses the media during a press conference at city hall June 2 in Dallas.

Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Thursday to address a recent drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases reported.

Nineteen out of 22 hospital regions are at less than 15% of hospitalizations for the last seven consecutive days.

“The spread of COVID-19 has steadily and significantly declined,” Abbott said. “A number of new cases and new hospitalizations have been cut by more than 2/3. The number of people recovering from [COVID-19] continues to skyrocket.”

With the exception of bars, businesses currently open at 50% capacity in the 19 hospital regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped can open at an expanded 75% capacity starting Monday, he said. This includes retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, manufacturing, museums, libraries and gyms. Rio Grande Valley, Laredo and Victoria are excluded from reopening and are still in the danger zone.

Effective immediately, hospitals can return to ordinary elective surgical procedures, and all long-term care facilities can allow visitation complying with protocols, so long as there are no COVID-19 outbreaks.

Families and residents will be thankful for opening up and expanding visitation for long-term health care residents, said Cecile Young, deputy executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services.

“There is a very real loneliness and isolation that happens,” she said. “By opening up, the families will be so pleased.”

Texans are taking COVID-19 restrictions seriously and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention precautions, Abbott said. This is important as students return to school, sports fanatics return to sporting events and flu season approaches.

These safety practices remain the best defense against COVID-19 until vaccines arrive in the following months, Abbott said. Texas is scheduled to receive millions of 15-minute tests per month that will detect if someone is COVID-19 positive.

“The reality is that [COVID-19] hasn’t suddenly disappeared in Texas,” he said. “It’s still here and is still a threat.”

Until additional medical treatments are available, Abbott suggested staying home if sick, sanitizing hands, wearing masks and continuing social distancing. These safety precautions will help keep focus on those most vulnerable to limit deaths and hospitalizations.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took time to thank Texans for their support of each other as hard times have not been easy and thanked frontline health care workers and grocery workers.

“The reason the hospitalizations are down is because Texans are respecting other Texans,” he said. “Texans, you’re the reason we’re at this point today.”

@ArimNeftali

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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