AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott declined at a news conference Sunday to follow the lead of other states with a statewide “shelter in place” order even as the number of cases in Texas swelled by at least 30 in a day. The death toll went from five to six.
Abbott said the increase in Texans with the disease comes as testing is ramping up, and that both the number of people sick and the number tested continue to rise. He urged the federal government to do more to help states acquire supplies needed for testing and protective equipment, such as face masks, for health care workers.
Abbott indicated he was not prepared to issue a shelter-in-place order, as governors in some large states have. He noted that more than 200 Texas counties currently have no virus cases and said leaders in harder-hit parts of the state could take this action at the local level.
But Abbott warned Texans that a shelter-in-place order could be coming if they don’t heed his previous orders in recent days that limited social gatherings to under 10 people, closed schools, bars and gyms and banned dine-in eating at restaurants.
“Stricter standards will be taken,” if necessary, Abbott said. “If you don’t have an essential reason for leaving your home, you should not be leaving your home.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services indicated that 334 people statewide had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday, which was up from 304 on Saturday. The governor acknowleged however that tracking data from Johns Hopkins put the number even high at 616 cases.
Dallas County has the greatest number of cases in Texas, with 30, according to the health department. It is followed by Harris County, with 27, and Bexar County, with 24. There are nine total cases in El Paso County, three of those are at Fort Bliss - which reported two new cases late Saturday night.
The latest Texas death was a man in his 80s in Dallas County. He had been critically ill in an area hospital, but more details were not released. It was the second death to occur in Dallas County from the virus.
The vast majority of people who contract the virus recover within weeks. It causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but it can lead to more severe illness, including pneumonia, especially in older adults and people with preexisting health problems.