June 26, 2020
Governor Shifts Reopening to Reverse
as Personal Irresponsibility Drives Surge
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
Scrambling frantically to play from behind in the nation's new COVID-19 epicenter, Governor Greg Abbott shut down Texas bars again on Friday while slapping new limits on restaurants and large public gatherings in the midst of a frightening resurgence that a premature reopening had fueled.
But Abbott is attempting to minimize the potential for another uprising on the hard right when he ruled that violators of the resurrected emergency restrictions could face fines and regulatory interference without the possibility of jail time for offenses.
"The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health," the Republican governor said. "We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part."
Abbott said that all Texans have "a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones" to do their part in a statewide team effort by wearing masks in public, social distancing and staying at home as much possible.
Abbott has put the reopening in a holding pattern on Thursday as it became obvious that the new coronavirus wave was totally out of control in Texas where the governor had claimed for a month that disease had been contained with testing missions to rural hot spots.
But the governor was compelled to take more dramatic actions after Texas set records for new cases in seven out of the last 10 days with more than 17,000 infections confirmed here in the past three days. The state's failure to defuse the second outbreak that's been under way for more than three weeks has pushed the Texas health care system to the brink of a meltdown with hospitals full and flowing over with COVID-19 patients. While testing has increased in the past week, Texas has one of the worst rates in the nation in that regard despite repeated promises by Abbott to fix that.
The second outbreak is due in large part to young people and older Texans including some elected Republican officials to adhere to safety protocols designed to protect their constituents' health and safety. But Abbott appears undaunted by the failure of Texans to practice the kind of personal responsibility that he keeps preaching.
"I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again,” the governor declared.
more to come ...