Texas and Florida Are Taking This Major Step to Get Coronavirus Numbers Down
Both states have seen their numbers of daily cases spike since reopening—here's how they're responding.
On June 25, the United States recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day—over 41,000. Two states in particular have been major contributors to the recent surge: Florida and Texas. Florida has recorded over 5,000 new cases on each of the last two days, while Texas saw a devastating 6,584 new COVID-19 infections on June 24. Both states are well into reopening, having never been locked down to the degree of states like New York, which were the hardest hit early on in the pandemic. Even as many have criticized their governments for allowing reopening to occur, lawmakers in Texas and Florida have resisted the pressure to go into another—perhaps more strict—lockdown. But on June 26, it seems that both states are taking an immediate step to slow the spread: shutting down bars.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order early on Friday morning limiting all bars to delivery and takeout services only, i.e. no more drinking or eating on the premises, according to reporting by NPR. The order also culled indoor restaurant seating back to 50 percent capacity; previous to this, eateries were allowed to operate at 75 percent. Additionally, rafting and tubing businesses will have to cease operations, and all gatherings of 100 people or more have to be approved by the state government.
"At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible," Abbott said in a statement accompanying the order.
The announcement that Florida bars are to immediately cease all on-premise consumption of alcohol came from the state's Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), per NBC 6 Miami. Here as well, bars can still sell drinks to-go and provide delivery service.
"Based on recent increases in COVID-19 cases and non-compliance with previous orders, DBPR has taken action to suspend on-premises alcohol sales at bars," DBPR Secretary Halsey Beshears said. "DBPR believes this is a necessary step to take to protect public health as we continue working in partnership with industry and health officials to combat COVID-19."
Yesterday, The New York Times reported that people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s make up a larger portion of positive coronavirus cases than they did earlier in the pandemic, which suggests that they are significantly fueling the spread—even if most don't get very severe cases or even show symptoms. In Florida, the Times says, the median age of individuals testing positive for coronavirus dropped from 65 in March to 35 now in June. In Texas, more than half of new cases reported in cities are younger people.
Shutting down bars to patrons can be seen not only as an effort to cut down on the places where people can congregate, but also to especially curb the interaction of younger individuals. And for more on asymptomatic spread, This Many Americans May Have Had Coronavirus and Didn't Know It, Says CDC.