With the traditional end of summer coming, Gov. Greg Abbott is warning Texans not to let their guard down. He says he understands that everyone has COVID-19 fatigue, but if Labor Day is like Memorial Day, the state’s number of cases will rise again.
Memorial Day occurred shortly after Abbott lifted the statewide stay-home order and reopened bars and restaurants. What followed was weeks of record-setting COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“I think there was a feeling at that particular time that we really didn’t have to worry about COVID, that people could go out and they could have Memorial Day parties, they could socialize, they could gather and things like that,” said Abbott. “That was one of the spreading events that led to the increase of COVID-19. People recognized that in Texas and as a result, they were a lot more responsible during the Fourth of July holiday time period.”
Abbott’s hope is that Texans will apply the same restraint to the Labor Day weekend as they did for the July 4 holiday.
Bars have been shut down since late June, and Abbott has given no indication that will change prior to Labor Day. He wants to see the state’s positivity rate below 10% and hospitalizations on the decline for a sustained period of time before lifting that order.
The Texas positivity rate, the number of tests that are coming back positive, has skyrocketed this week to a record 24.5%. As Reform Austin previously reported, the state is investigating the reasons for that. It is not due to increased testing because testing across Texas has declined during the timeframe the positivity rate has been rising.
Public health officials view a rising positivity rate as an indication of a lack of adequate testing and a sign of increased spread of COVID-19.
“The fact that the test positivity rate is increasing (in the U.S.) while we’re increasing the number of tests is extremely strong evidence that the surge in cases is real,” said Dr. Justin Lessler, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University.