LUBBOCK, Texas (NEXSTAR) – On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott visited Lubbock and El Paso to provide updates on the state’s response to Coronavirus.
One of the topics he addressed was bars, which remain closed after an executive order earlier in the year. The order left bar owners with few options.
Today, the Governor said he sympathizes with bar owners and wants to see those businesses reopen safely.
“I’m extremely sympathetic to their cause. They have bills to pay, they have rent or mortgages to pay, they have to put food on the table and they don’t have a paycheck that they once had,” Abbott said Thursday. “So they are in the worst situation, perhaps, of anybody because of the economic fallout of this pandemic and we want to see everybody back and as fully employed as possible.”
But, according to Abbott, the nature of bar settings is what makes them an easy place for the virus to spread, as people gather together, take their masks off to drink and are less likely to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures when they are intoxicated.
The Governor defended his executive order saying the spread was slowed, the positivity rate slowed and hospitalizations did as well after his executive order was put in place.
The data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, in a way, backs up that statement as the positivity rate remained level around 13 and 14 percent. That was until July 7 when the number rose to 15 percent. Daily case numbers and hospitalizations also appeared to level off, the data shows.
Gov. Abbott did outline some of the stipulations that could help those businesses reopen.
“We need to see the positivity rate go back below 10 percent for a sustained period of time, we do need to see more hospital rooms become available and then we need to see that bar establishments have a strategy that can be enforced with discipline to maintain safe distancing practices so they do not become a setting where COVID-19 can be spread,” Abbott said Thursday.
Currently, the positivity rate in Texas is just under 25 percent.
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