Dallas County, Texas reported its highest number of coronavirus cases on Friday – the same day the state governor reopened its stores, restaurants and movie theaters at limited capacity.
Three hours south, in the state capital of Austin, the county of origin, the number of reported cases has increased every day since coronavirus testing began in March.
Even some rural cities like Paris, Texas, which seem to have largely escaped the pandemic for weeks, are seeing a sudden increase in the spread of the deadly virus.
“Everyone is scared,” the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, a Democrat, told MSNBC on Thursday. “Obviously, the economy is suffering and people are looking to see what will happen next, but no one knows what will happen with the governor’s actions. “
Adler said he wanted Texas governor Greg Abbott to wait a week or two before reopening to allow further expansion of testing and contact tracing programs. But the mayor said his hands were tied, and now he just hopes people will continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Texas reported a total of 30,522 cases of coronavirus and 847 deaths on Saturday, compared to 23,773 cases and 623 deaths a week earlier.
Abbott maintains that new protocols for the first phase of the state reopening allow the state to maintain health and safety standards as it advances a testing and contact tracing program for the coronavirus.
All retail stores, restaurants, cinemas, museums and libraries were allowed to open on Friday, but must limit their capacity to 25%. Shopping centers can also open under the same capacity restriction, but must keep food courts closed
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“This strategic approach to the opening of the state of Texas prioritizes the health and safety of our communities and follows the guidelines established by our team of medical experts,” the governor said in a statement this week. last.
Texas – with a population of 29 million – has performed more than 380,000 tests for coronavirus.
New York, a state with about 10 million fewer people, has performed 959,000 tests, or 2.5 times more tests, according to the New York State Department of Health.
Tests in progress in Texas show that the virus continues to spread.
Dallas County reported 187 new positive tests and two more deaths on Friday, marking its largest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic. The county said their total increased to 3,718 cases and 106 deaths.
Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins urged residents to “wear face covers when visiting businesses, limit unnecessary purchases” and stay at home “until we reach two weeks consecutive declines. “
“Today marks our highest day to date in the new COVID19 cases,” he said in a statement. “Our three highest days have all been this week. This increase in positive cases occurred without a significant increase in testing capacity. We saw young people die from COVID19 this week and today’s victims add to this list. All of this illustrates why we all need to make smart decisions and follow the science for #FlattenTheCurve. ”
Paris, Texas, a small town of 25,000, has gone from a limited number of cases to a sudden hotspot with at least 65 infections reported, the Associated Press reported on Thursday. What is particularly concerning is that the epidemic appears to have occurred in a nursing home.
Until last weekend, there had only been eight cases in Paris. Six of these people have recovered.
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“And then,” boom, “said Paris mayor Steve Clifford at the PA.
Yet many business owners across the state are struggling to balance their concerns about the spread of the disease with the need for them and their employees to earn money.
A Texas Restaurant Association poll found that 44% of restaurants in the state plan to reopen Friday, while 47% said they would wait.
Amy Cowan, who owns a cafe and an outdoor market named Oddfellows in Dallas, said her restaurant will start allowing patio seating to try to provide some semblance of normality to customers, but she understands why some people emphasis on “the importance of staying at home and isolation.” ”
She said companies like hers are providing support to front-line workers, and the opening will help employees and customers.
“They’re still looking for some semblance of their old life,” said Cowan of his clients. “And if we can offer some respite and we can do it in a safe way, I think people will come. “