HOUSTON — Governor Greg Abbott provided an update on the state’s ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19. During a press conference, the Governor issued Executive Orders expanding occupancy levels for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums, and libraries, and re-authorizing elective surgeries for a majority of the state of Texas. The Governor also announced new guidance related to visitations at nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.

“With the medical advancements we have made and the personal hygiene practices we have adopted, Texans have shown that we can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on,” said Governor Abbott. “Achieving both goals requires safe standards that contain COVID-19, emphasize protecting the most vulnerable, and establish clear metrics that the public can depend on. That is why today we have announced expanded occupancy standards for a variety of services. But, Texans should remember that a steady and significant decline in COVID-19 cases is not a sign to let up in our vigilance against the virus. Instead, Texans must continue to heed the guidance of medical experts by wearing a mask, social distancing, and practicing proper sanitation strategies. By maintaining health and safety standards that are proven to mitigate COVID-19, we can continue to slow the spread while opening up the Texas economy.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner  released the following statement in response to Governor Abbott’s announcement.

“I listened to Gov. Abbott’s announcement and believe the plan is a little more aggressive than I would prefer in announcing the next round of reopenings. The virus is still in our community. The state has taken an approach that comes with high risk.

The governor is only utilizing the number of hospitalizations as the primary matrix to make decisions about reopening, and hospitalizations represent a lagging indicator.

We have been here before. Our hospitalizations were low at the end of April, but then those numbers shot up, and the results were horrendous. Houston is still reporting too many positive cases and deaths at a level higher than in March, April, and May.

This is not the time to take a victory lap, because it undermines the messages we have given the public to take this virus seriously and mask up and get tested.

If people think we have conquered the virus, it makes it more challenging to get them to continue to wear face masks, stay home if they are sick, wash their hands, and get tested – all the measures we need them to take to contain the virus until there is a vaccine.”