Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday ruled out another lockdown as new daily cases have surged past their summer peaks in recent days, although the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the state remain well below previous highs.
Abbott made the remarks in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, during which he was asked whether, “given the surge, are you going to re-lockdown or tighten controls on the Lone Star state?”
“First, no more lockdowns in Texas,” the governor replied, adding, “second, we had a plan in place before this most recent outbreak and what that plan entailed was that if one of our 22 different hospital regions in the state of Texas has a hospitalization rate of 15 percent of total beds occupied by COVID patients, that leads to an automatic rationing back of the openings to 50 percent across the board as well as closing down bars in those regions.”
Abbott said those policies have led to a drop in spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in El Paso and Lubbock counties, which saw recent surges.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), new daily infections in Lubbock County have fallen from their Nov. 16 record peak of 772, down to 474 on Nov. 21. The number of daily deaths due to COVID-19 hit a record high of 12 on Oct. 27, before falling to the low single digits in recent days, although DSHS notes that it expects the number of fatalities for recent days to grow as more death certificates are filed for those days.
El Paso County, meanwhile, saw a record number of new daily infections on Nov. 4, with 3,100 cases, before dropping to 843 on Nov. 22. The number of daily deaths in El Paso hit a record of 20 on Nov. 1, falling to six on Nov. 17, with DSHS noting the same caveat about the number of fatalities being a trailing statistic.
Abbott visited hard-hit Lubbock last week, where he told reporters that he would not impose another lockdown.
“It is important for everybody in the state to know that, statewide, we’re not going to have another shutdown,” Abbott said. “There’s an overestimation of exactly what a shutdown will achieve.”
Following the surge in El Paso, authorities rushed more than 1,200 additional medical staff while 10 mobile morgues were in place to handle the dead.
There has been a statewide mask mandate in place in Texas since July, and restaurants and businesses continue to operate at reduced capacity.
The number of new daily cases in Texas surged to a record high of 12,597 on Nov.21, while the number of daily fatalities, which hit a peak of 277 on July 23, fell to five on Nov. 19, with DSHS noting it expects that number to climb as more death certificates are filed.