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Texas Gov. Abbott delays further reopening in El Paso County due to virus spike

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday afternoon that he will delay further reopening in El Paso County as well as the Texas Panhandle because of spikes in infections in the two areas that he described as a "meaningful outbreak."

Abbott also said Monday that El Paso's hospital capacity is "too close for comfort at this particular time." University Medical Center in El Paso has disclosed that it is now close to reaching capacity.

Across much of the state, bars and bowling alleys would be able to partially reopen (at 25% capacity) come this Friday and restaurants would be able to allow more customers inside (50% capacity) as part of phase two of the governor's plan.

However, in El Paso County and the Panhandle, those re-openings are being pushed back to May 29. The governor had been asked by El Paso officials to halt the lifting of further restrictions until the virus curve flattens.

The one-week delay "will give those communities and our surge team response the time needed to slow the spread and maintain hospital capacity," Abbott said. "It will ensure those communities safely move into phase two."

It's been more than two weeks since Abbott allowed Texas retail stores, restaurants and shopping malls to open at 25% capacity. Since then, the governor has also allowed barbershops and hair salons to reopen, and gyms were allowed to resume operations Monday.

By June, youth sports and other camps will be allowed to open, and professional sports, including auto racing, golf, softball and tennis leagues can apply with the state to host events without spectators.

Schools, which had been closed for the rest of the existing school year, can make plans to reopen for summer school with social distancing guidelines for in-person instruction. Universities can also reopen campus for the summer with similar guidelines, but the governor's order did not mention planning for college sports.

Despite Abbott's optimism, the state of Texas overall has seen a steady increase in the growth of the coronavirus, with record numbers of daily new cases and deaths.

But the governor pointed to declining positive test rates statewide, with daily testing boosted, as the reason for his decision to continue reopening the state. The infection rate was as high as 13 percent in mid-April and has dropped under 5 percent in recent days, he contended. However, the state has fallen short of Abbott's goal to reach 30,000 tests per day.

Few states have moved faster to reopen than Texas, where experts warned that the numbers of new cases would rise as the state reopened and that prediction has borne out.

A nine-day streak of at least 1,000 new daily cases that ended Sunday saw the one-day infection rate hit a record-high of 1,801 on Saturday. More than 700 of them were reported Saturday in the Texas Panhandle around Amarillo, where there is a cluster of infections tied to meatpacking plants.

With 110 deaths over last Thursday and Friday, it was easily the highest two-day fatality rate since the virus was first detected in the state. But experts have also cautioned that the state has still yet to see a peak in its death rate.

In El Paso, the county has reported six-straight days of deaths due to the virus, the largest streak throughout the pandemic.

The state reported 909 new cases Monday in about 30,000 new tests. Eleven new deaths were the lowest in a single day since March 31 when there were four. Mondays have typically been when the fewest new cases are reported.

(The Texas Tribune and Associated Press contributed to this report. You can watch the governor's entire remarks at Monday's news conference in the video player below.)

Coronavirus / Coronavirus Video / El Paso / Health / News / Texas Politics / Top Stories / Video

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Comments

58 Comments

    1. Social distancing and face masks ARE containing the virus. If you would pay your electric bill and get your electricity turned back on, you could turn on your TV and get the news. Even the Republican FOX No News channel will tell you that.

      1. Containing the virus? Not in El Paso obviously. Cases going up to include the death count. You watch too much CNN, ABC and MSNBC. Also, I bet you spend your life at the WaPo, NYT, HuffPo, Mother Jones, Daily Beast, Buzzfeed and the Vox. You must be getting brainwashed from some leftist media source.

          1. Thanks for that revelation. So you are getting your leftist fake news and brainwashed by NPR and PBS. They are worse than CNN and MSNBC.

      2. I worked in a chemical weapons site in Germany for three years. We had to wear Level-A every day, and that wasn’t considered safe enough for biological weapons like germs and viruses. If Level-A isn’t safe to stop a virus, what good do you think your stupid paper mask is?

  1. Agree, anything contagious won’t just go away by or because of our current guidelines. Folks vulnerable to death from it need to take on the responsibility to isolate.

    1. What about the responsibility to feed the family? How do you make hunger go away? How do you pay the rent/mortgage when no money is coming in? How much longer will the US survive without going back to work?

  2. What a bunch of right winger idiots! Please don’t wear a mask and please visit your family. Stay the heck away from me. President Obama, I LOVE YOU!

  3. Trump’s moronic war on masks is working — at least with his base

    HEADLINE READ ALL OVER THE WORLD, IT APPLIES TO THE MORONS RIGHT WINGERS THAT POST ON THE WEBSITE- EVEN THOUGH THEY DON’T LIVE HERE.

  4. Yes, they spew a lot of BS. I don’t think they believe their own rhetoric, but the orange devil is a racist; therefore, they adore him because they have a leader who can justify their insults, killings and maimings. To heck with them. I am sure they will start posting more of their idiocies (extremely stupid behavio) at any moment. Have a good day!

        1. No, Tuscon Mike, he will not. At the present, he is not “my” anything, but he is the orange devil, as well as the likes of you that keep admiring the idiot!

          1. The Democratic Campaign has to do the talking fo SLEEPY JOE ,Because he has dementia and hiding out at his basement to avoid his mental gaffes and his out of touch. C/S/R he is un Loser!!!!!!

  5. Wow, death streak! Nice scary words there KVIA, keep panicking the sheep. So, call from reality- How many people die each day in El Paso from causes other than the corona bug, hmm?

    1. Wow, death streak! Nice scary words there KVIA, keep panicking the sheep. So, call from reality- How many people die each day in El Paso from causes other than the corona bug, hmm?

      HMMMMM…you are an idiot.

  6. LOL one week is going to make a big difference? I feel bad for the businesses but I would hate to have them and their customers get sick. People are not helping each other give me a break. Have these people in this video not been to Lowes? I had stuff brought to my car and that place was packed. Many people without masks and we wonder why the numbers go up.

      1. Again, the purpose of the shut down was not to prevent people from getting it. It was to spread the impact out over a course of time so the hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. We’ve done that. If you’re going to get it you’re going to get it.

        1. You first Cara

          I’m not in adoration nor a proponent of the orange 😈. Therefore, I am not in line of his orange elixers. You go right ahead. It might clear the space between your ears.

      2. I would be more worried about getting it from idiots like you versus some stranger at a gym. The ones crying the loudest are the ones not isolating when needed, doing proper social distancing and wearing effective face masks that filter down to the proper micron level.

        1. The only scary worry is the orange devil and his orange develettes. That is the real danger in the world. Dangerous and mean and ugly

          Good will overcome evil. You, orange ones, are plain ugly evil.

          1. Hey, Orange Maga

            You are evil and you will have to account to someone other than the orange devil when you perish. You ain’t gonna sway Him, don’t forget that.

  7. I don’t think we have to worry about the original maga swaying anyone. As long as he keeps winning arguments for the democrats on this blog we need to let him run!

    1. Very funny. What Democrats on this blog? You mean Alberto and all his aliases to include you. That totals 1. Alberto’s greatest fantasy is impersonating a white guy.

  8. Great let’s open the GYM PETRI DISH but we can’t go have a beer or go out to diner
    Cry babies Margo & Samaniego working on bankrupting the city so they can raise your property taxes to cover the absorbance salaries of city managers. No matter what they do people are going to die, why have they left Senior’s out to dry no testing was or has been done for the most susceptible in our community, Am in the industry so I know that for a fact

    1. USMC, did you notice all the cowardly dems posting here? It’s really only 2 morons. This cara is another alberto along with flores. So this psycho has 3 to 4 memes and then pretends to agree with each other. Foul mouth misanthropes trying to blame someone else for their miserable lives. You add 1946 and we have two idiots. I agree with you. No matter what they do people are going to die is correct. Hell people dying in motor vehicle accidents are being counted as corona infected if they prove positive. Never mind the impact of the collision on their bodies. To dems it was the virus.

        1. Poor Joe closed his business because of the tyrannical orders of our fearless leaders. You going to support him, alberto?
          And yes you are going to die with your ignorance.

          1. An excellent man(Mr. Obama), like a precious metal, is in every way invariable; A villain (Trump, aka King George the III),like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards,(mostly downwards)–John Locke

          2. 0h Momma, could this really be the End ?, I’m stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again….–Bob Dylan

  9. King George III’s acolytes are losing their mind. Hydroquinone anyone? Bleach cocktail anyone? It’s a free bar and King George III is hosting. Step right up, don’t be shy.

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