Texas governor pauses reopening the state as COVID-19 cases rise
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Update (June 26, 2020): On Friday morning, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring bars to close and putting restrictions on outdoor gatherings. Abbott also scaled back restaurant dining, the most dramatic reversals yet as confirmed coronavirus cases surge.
Abbott also said rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.
More than 39,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the U.S. just Thursday, a new record. Some businesses are shutting down again: Apple has ordered the re-closing of 18 stores in the U.S., including seven stores in Houston, because of spikes.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he was “pausing” the reopening of the state. But he said he’s not telling any businesses to re-close.
Among Texans who have been tested for COVID-19 in the past week, 1 out of 10 has it.
“As you look at the trends and then you look at our openings, you can see some patterns there and they’re not surprising,” said Marilyn Felkner, who teaches public health at the University of Texas at Austin.
Since May, the governor has gradually pulled back social distancing requirements. Felkner said each time, Texas sees an uptick in cases.
Right now, most businesses can operate at 50% capacity. But rules vary by city. Depending where you are in Texas, you might be required to wear a mask, which leads to confusion among consumers and business owners.
“Businesses need to be able to get back open, but we’re not going to be able to unless business owners, and then every Texan, take seriously the fact that this is in some ways in our own hands,” said Justin Yancy, president of the Texas Business Leadership Council.
Gov. Abbott said Thursday, “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses.” But he may have to do just that if the trend continues and COVID-19 keeps spreading.
With reporting from The Associated Press
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
It’s still unclear. Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia believes the program should not be extended, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the additional money is disincentivizing some workers from returning to their jobs. Democrats want to keep providing the money until January.
As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?
States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too. Some people have started to make exceptions for visiting restaurants, if only for outdoor dining. Some are only going to places they trust are being extra cautious. But no one we’ve talked to has really gone back to normal. People just aren’t quite there yet.
Will surges in COVID-19 cases mean a return to lockdowns?
In many areas where businesses are reopening, cases of COVID-19 are trending upwards, causing some to ask if the lockdowns were lifted too soon, and if residents and businesses might have to go through it all again. So, how likely is another lockdown, of some sort? The answer depends on who you ask. Many local officials are now bullish about keeping businesses open to salvage their economies. Health experts, though, are concerned.
You can find answers to more questions here.
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