(Natural News) A day after he warned that a statewide shutdown could be in the cards if people didn’t start wearing masks, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has now stated that there are no plans for such a shutdown.
“I get this question, it seems like, a thousand times a day,” Abbott said in an interview with Houston’s KPRC-TV. “People are panicking thinking I’m about to shut down Texas again. The answer is no.”
Abbott’s proclamation that a new shutdown isn’t happening comes after Texas set a new high with almost 10,800 new coronavirus cases, alongside a record 110 deaths.
Abbot backtracks on earlier warnings
Abbot saying that a new shutdown isn’t necessary for Texas is an about-face of his position a week before. On July 10, in the face of rising coronavirus numbers in the state – as well as the increasing number of people flouting his statewide mask mandate – Abbott stated that the next step for the state could be another economic shutdown.
“Things will get worse, and let me explain why,” he said in an interview with KLBK TV last week. “The deaths that we’re seeing announced today and yesterday – which are now over 100 – those are people who likely contracted COVID-19 in late May.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive,” he added.
Abbott continued to push that message in various television interviews last week; however, he has since backtracked and is now cautioning people against panicking over a shutdown that he now says isn’t coming.
In his recent interview with KPRC-TV, Abbott seemed to imply that a shutdown would only delay the spread of the virus and that people should instead follow his mask mandate.
“If we were to shut down for two weeks, as some people are asking, once we open back up you would then see things begin to spread again,” Abbott said.
Abbott followed this up by saying that until medicines that could slow down COVID-19 had been found, the only thing that people could do to stem the pandemic would be to wear a face mask whenever they went out.
Masks, not shutdown, key to fighting the coronavirus
Abbot has repeatedly stressed this week that he would be able to avoid shutting down the state if people wore masks.
As of Thursday, July 16, there were 10,457 people in Texas hospitals with COVID-19. This was down slightly from a peak of 10,649 on July 14, but still an 8 percent increase from the previous week and four times the number from June.
Abbott said that the slight dip in the hospitalization numbers offered the state “a glimmer of hope.” However, he still doubled down on his mask rhetoric, saying that they needed to get everyone in the state wearing face masks.
Not everyone was happy with Abbott pushing his mask order. Early Thursday, the governor faced criticism from fellow Texas Republicans during an online Texas GOP convention.
While Abbott acknowledged the criticism, he remained adamant that the mask order was necessary to avoid a shutdown.
“The last thing that any of us want is to lock Texas back down again,” he said during the virtual convention.
Democrats, on the other hand, have continued to push for Abbott to take more action to stop the spread of the pandemic.
“Governor Abbott should start listening to public health officials and members of his own coronavirus taskforce before he makes blanket claims,” said Abhi Rahman, a state Democratic party spokesperson, to the Texas Tribune. “After experiencing record deaths today and over 10,000 new cases, it’s shocking that Abbott continues to double down on his failed policies and positions.”
Follow Pandemic.news to learn more about how U.S. states are battling the coronavirus.