This Is the "Only Way" to Avoid Another Lockdown, Texas Governor Warns
If Texans don't do this, "it will lead to the necessity of having to close Texas back down," governor says.
This week, the state of Texas set single-day records for both new COVID-19 cases and deaths as a result of the virus. The situation, Gov. Greg Abbott said, is officially "dire." "COVID is spreading more rapidly, more aggressively than it ever has in the state of Texas," Abbott said on CBS19's The Noon Show on Friday, July 10. "If we cannot get everybody to join in to this effort to wear face masks to slow the spread, it could lead to the dire situation where the Texas economy may have to go back into lockdown," he warned.
The Texas governor instituted a face mask order on July 2, requiring all residents to wear face coverings in public spaces within any county with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. The order went into effect on July 3 at 12:01 p.m. But in the week since, COVID cases have continued to surge. Nearly 16 percent of tests are coming back positive as of July 9, up from 12.5 percent on July 5, according to data from Covid Act Now.
On The Noon Show, Abbott said, "There's one thing that we can do—and really, only one thing we can do until medicines become available to treat COVID—and that is for everyone to understand the importance of wearing masks."
"When you talk to someone, you don't know and they don't know who has COVID, who doesn't have COVID," Abbott added. "The only way you can prevent either getting it or transmitting it is making sure that you do wear a face mask."
Abbott was alluding to the fact that scientific evidence indicates that up to 45 percent of all COVID cases are asymptomatic, meaning you have the virus but are not showing signs. In addition, studies have shown that masks can block over 95 percent of virus particles from being transmitted into the air, and can also protect the wearer from 65 percent of particles.
Abbott went on to beg Texas residents to cover their faces when out in public and implored local officials to enforce the mandate, too. "I know it's an inconvenience. It's not the thing that I get up every morning and get excited about, 'Oh, I get to put on a mask today,'" he said. "But I do know that if we do wear masks, we will be able to keep our businesses open, we will not have to lock our economy back down again—people will be able to continue to earn the paycheck they need to be able to pay their bills and put food on their table."
Since coronavirus started surging in Texas in June, Abbott has taken a couple steps to encourage Texans to follow guidelines. In addition to the mask mandate, on June 26, he shut bars back down and scaled back restaurant capacity to 50 percent.
But on The Noon Show, Abbott concluded that if people aren't wearing masks, it's all for naught. "If we do not all join together and unite in this one cause for a short period of time of adopting masks … it will lead to the necessity of having to close Texas back down," he said. "That should be the last thing that any government wants, the last thing that any business owner wants."
"The only way those businesses are going to be able to stay open is to make sure people wear masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It's not going away. The pretend game has to end. COVID is spreading rapidly," Abbott concluded. "This is serious." As of July 11, there have been nearly 250,000 cases of coronavirus in Texas and over 3,100 people have died, The New York Times database shows. And for more on states in danger of locking down again, check out These 14 States Are Looking at Another Lockdown, Harvard Researchers Say.