Texas Democrats are pressuring Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to enact another shutdown — or at least allow localities to do so — as the state grapples with a surge in novel coronavirus cases.
“Gov. Abbott: you need to issue stay at home orders. This is only going to get worse until you do,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted Sunday.
Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela urged the governor in a Friday joint statement to “issue a mandatory stay-at-home order,” with Mr. Gonzalez tweeting, “We need to shut down.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, said that the state “opened up the government here in Texas too quickly. That was May. 1.”
“I think we are at a point of crisis,” Ms. Jackson Lee told MSNBC on Friday. “We’re not going to get ahead of this. It’s going to continue and my fear is more people will die. We need a stay at home order in our local communities.”
She said the governor should give authority to cities and counties to issue stay-at-home orders, saying that hospitals and first responders need “breathing room” to “get in front of COVID-19.”
Mr. Abbott has taken steps recently to slow the virus’s spread, shutting down bars, scaling back restaurant capacity, and issuing a mandatory mask order for people living in counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases, but has resisted another shutdown.
“Let me be clear about this because a lot of people are asking about that question,” Mr. Abbott told KSAT-12 News in San Antonio. “There are rumors out there that there will be an imminent shutdown and that is not the case.”
At the same time, he warned that people need to follow the mask mandate, which calls for wearing masks in businesses and buildings open to the public as well as outside when social distancing is not possible.
“That could eventually lead to a return to a lockdown in the state of Texas,” Abbott said. “We do not want that, hence we need everybody to join us in this effort.”
Thirty bar owners sued June 29 to block the governor’s executive order, accusing Mr. Abbott of violating the state constitution and picking economic winners and losers.
Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz led a Thursday letter asking the Health and Human Services for more federal assistance as well as a field hospital, saying that “COVID-19 cases in South Texas are at their highest peak since the pandemic began, with no indication that case counts will level out soon.”
California led the nation in the number of new cases per capita as of Saturday with 8,525, followed by 8,332 in Texas, which dipped below 9,000 new daily cases for the first time since July 5, according to the New York Times’s coronavirus map.
New York still leads the nation in COVID-19 cases with 405,724, or 2,088 per 100,000 people, and 32,019 deaths, or 165 per 100,000. New York has leveled off since peaking in mid-April.
California has registered 320,030 cases, or 810 per 100,000, and 7,012 deaths, or 18 per 100,000, followed by Texas with 258,280 cases, or 891 per 100,000, and 3,206 deaths, or 11 per 100,000.