AUSTIN, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Gov. Greg Abbott is hitting the pause button on the phased reopening plan for the state of Texas.
According to a release from the Governor’s Office Thursday, any additional reopening phases have been paused due to the rising number of cases and hospitalizations.
“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business.”
On Wednesday, Texas saw the highest daily number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, 5,551.
The rising numbers have also been seen in the Permian Basin over the past few weeks. In Midland and Odessa alone, more than 450 cases have been confirmed in the past two weeks.
Specifically, Midland County has seen 172 new cases just this week, while Ector County has seen 109 new cases in the same time frame.
“We are very concerned about the numbers that are showing up at the hospitals,” Odessa Mayor David Turner said Wednesdat. “As this being our largest numbers, that is a little alarming and we are not seeing masks worn at the same amount that other communities are.”
The rising numbers in Ector County has prompted Turner to task the City Attorney to begin drafting a mask requirement ordinance. However, no final decision on the ordinance has been made, the mayor said.
Meanwhile, in the Tall City, Mayor Patrick Payton says they are not currently considering a mask requirement, leaving that responsibility up to residents in the community.
Gov. Abbott also called on hospitals in larger cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas Thursday to halt all elective procedures to meet the rising hospitalization demands.
While local Hospitals are not included in this executive order, officials say they are constantly talking about elective procedures and evaluating their plans.
However, Dr. Rohith Saravanan, Chief Medical Officer at Odessa Regional Medical Center, noted if numbers continue to rise at the rate they are seeing now, they will quickly be at their capacity or exceeding that capacity.