LUBBOCK, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott on Friday discussed the rising number of cases and hospitalizations across the state of Texas and in the Lubbock area specifically, and what his administration is looking to do to counter it.
Abbott said the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the state and the threat of another shutdown were among the reasons he decided to require face masks in the state.
On July 2, Governor Abbott signed an executive order that required masks be worn in public areas in all Texas counties with over 20 positive COVID-19 cases.
“If we do not adopt this best practice,” he said, “it could lead to a shutdown of businesses. That is the last thing that we want to see. We cannot tolerate another shutdown.”
Abbott said one of the major ways Texas is looking to counteract the spread of the virus without resorting to another shutdown is encouraging compliance with the new mask order.
“[We will] continue to convince the public that wearing a face mask is the safest way that they can live their lives now until therapeutic drugs become available,” he said.
Abbott said doctors and health authorities across the state are also continually learning new places where the virus may spread rapidly, such as bars.
Abbott issued an executive order on June 26 that ordered all Texas bars closed after many cases were traced back to establishments across the state.
“We will learn other areas where COVID-19 may be spreading, and if it’s the case,” he said, “it may be necessary to shut down operations like [bars].”
In an interview on KLBK, Abbott said the recent wave of deaths that have hit the state have likely come from people who tested positive with the virus in late May, and not June or July.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase,” he said.
Abbott said Lubbock has seen a large increase in community spread, or cases that cannot be traced to any one specific cause, such as exposure to a known case.
“When someone goes out to anyplace they go to and engage with somebody else, neither one of them know whether one or the other has COVID-19, that’s how massive [the increase] is,” he said.