AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told ABC-7 that he'll be speaking with El Paso's mayor and county judge next week to again examine the coronavirus situation, and determine whether it's safe for the local economy to be re-opened further.
Bars and bowling allies were among expanded openings across much of Texas on Friday, but not in El Paso. Abbott paused that from happening for a week due to concerns about the county's virus hospitalization rate.
Since that halt was put into place on Monday, conditions have worsened. As of Friday, El Paso health officials reported 119 patients currently hospitalized, with 65 in intensive care and 22 on ventilators.
Abbott said in an interview with ABC-7 on Friday evening that the state is closely monitoring El Paso's hospital and ICU bed capacity.
"First and foremost, (we're looking at) what is the status of the availability of hospital and ICU units and things like that," Abbott explained. "The good news is we have robust ability to expand hospital capacity if needed, but our goal is, hopefully because of the surge team, we will see a downward trajectory in the number of people testing positive."
Abbott sent a surge response team to El Paso recently at the request of Mayor Dee Margo to boost testing capability in the hopes of getting a better indication of the virus' spread within the community.
On another topic, Abbott told ABC-7 that he thinks college football will return on schedule in Texas with some level of fans in the stands. He based that observation on conversations he's had recently with Big-12 conference leaders.
Abbott has already issued new rules to allow youth sports leagues to resume in June and for some professional leagues to hold events without spectators. But the state rules have so far not touched college sports.
“Once we get to college football season, our goal right now is to have college football season start as planned, with fans in stands,” the Republican governor said. “What we don’t know is what the capacity level would be.”