Virus Outbreak Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference where he provided an update to Texas’ response to COVID-19 Sept. 17 in Austin.

GALVESTON

The state of Texas won’t resume the limits on civic and commercial life enacted earlier this year to slow COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.

“It is important for everybody in the state to know that, statewide, we’re not going have another shutdown,” Abbott said

The people of Texas will have to do it themselves, he said.

Speaking at his first public COVID-related news conference in more than two months, and for the first time since Texas COVID-19 cases began rising from a late summer low, Abbott said he had no inclination to issue new orders.

“This is not our first response to this challenge,” Abbott said. “We had a greater increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in July. We learned exactly at that time what needed to be done to crush COVID-19 in Texas, and Texans joined together to make sure we did slow the spread.”

Abbott spoke on a day that the number of new cases reported in the state hit a new record high at 12,293 and hours after a series of short-notice cancellations in Galveston County.

Late Wednesday night, organizers of two large events planned on the island — the Ironman 70.3 endurance race and Dickens on the Strand, a Christmas street festival — decided to call off their events.

League City announced Thursday that Mayor Pat Hallisey had been hospitalized and was receiving oxygen after contracting the virus. Soon after, the city of Galveston confirmed that two employees in its city manager’s office were quarantined after being diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.

Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell, who tested negative for the virus, said he was working from home until the office could be deep-cleaned.

Locals officials said they had no plans, or legal ability, to take action beyond what Abbott had ordered statewide.

In Galveston Craig Brown, who is acting mayor, said the city planned to follow the governor’s lead.

“At this point, I don’t see anything in the near future,” in terms of business closures, Brown said. “Really the enforcement of this is going to have to come down to the individual.”

At times earlier this year, Galveston officials moved to close bars and beaches, limit public gatherings and send hotel visitors and short-term renters home. The moves distressed and angered some local business owners, particularly before the Fourth of July, when the city closed beaches on very short notice ahead of one of the island’s busiest holidays.

Although cases of COVID-19 are appearing in record numbers in Texas, the situation in Galveston County still appeared under control, Brown said.

Still, he lauded decisions by private groups to cancel events that might have made matters worse.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, who has for the most part resisted ordering closures because of COVID-19 throughout the year, said he wasn’t surprised by Abbott’s stance. It was something Abbott has said in other interviews in recent days, he said

“I didn’t hear anything new today,” Henry said. Henry wasn’t inclined to impose some kind of local pandemic order, in part because recent increases in the virus haven’t overburdened local hospitals, he said.

“Our hospitals have indicated that they have no capacity issues at all,” Henry said.

Over the course of the year, Abbott has swung between allowing local officials to make decisions about anti-COVID-19 measures and making sweeping statewide rules that usurped the decisions made by those officials.

In a news conference Oct. 7, Abbott announced that county judges — but not mayors or other municipal leaders — could exempt bars from his COVID-19 orders, if a county met a certain threshold of hospitalizations.

He also moved to prevent or limit cities’ abilities to issue fines as a way to enforce statewide face-mask orders.

Part of the reason for the recent spread of the virus was that local officials weren’t doing enough to enforce existing COVID-19 rules, Abbott said.

“There are plenty of tools in the toolboxes of local authorities to achieve the results that are needed,” Abbott said. “Some local officials are not using the tools that are available to them to make sure they are taking every step they need.

“These measurable tools or metrics won’t matter if they’re not enforced,” he said. “They need to be enforcing the protocols that are in place right now.”

As of Thursday, the state of COVID-19 in Galveston County remained about where it’s been over the past month.

As of Nov. 19, there were 1,165 active cases in Galveston County, according to the health district. A month ago, on Oct. 19, there were 646 active cases. At the end of July, there were as many as 5,300 known active cases in the county at one time, according to the health district.

Since October 25, 1,393 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the district. It’s the highest four-week total since 1,242 positive cases were identified from Aug. 2 to Aug. 29.

In one four-week period from June 21 to July 19, 6,156 county residents tested positive.

There has been a slight increase in the number of people hospitalized locally by the virus. As of Thursday, 49 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Galveston County hospitals, according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council. About 6.6 percent of local hospital beds were being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

On Oct. 19, 30 people were hospitalized and about 3.5 percent of beds were being used by COVID-19 patients.

On July 7, the county’s hospitals were at their peak usage. At that time, there were 273 COVID-19 patients in county hospital beds, and 32 percent of all the beds were being used to treat COVID patients.

Texas reported 8,489 new cases Wednesday; the count grew by 2,000 on Thursday. Across the state, 7,958 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(13) comments

Doug Sivyer

This man is irresposible and incompetant. If COVID 19 hosipitaly amnd death reates rates dicate shut downs of some or all services in this state then so be it. When Biden gets in office he won't tolerate these renegade governors that do not have the best interest of public health in mind.

Carlos Ponce

You want a shut down, Doug? Go to your house, put out a "Do not disturb sign" lock yourself inside. There's your shut down.

Susan Smith

[thumbup]

Wayne D Holt

[thumbup][thumbup]

Doug Sivyer

Abbott He is an Idiot! The state of Texas won’t resume the limits on civic and commercial life enacted earlier this year to slow COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday.

“It is important for everybody in the state to know that statewide, we’re not going have another shutdown,” Abbott said

The people of Texas will have to do it themselves, he said. THE POPLE OF TEXAS HAVE NOT DONE IT THEMSELVES AND WILL NOT DO IT THEMSELVES AS EVIDENT OF WERE WE ARE TODAY WITH COVID INFECTIONS, HOSPITALIZATIONS, AND DEATHS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH. THAT IS WHY IT SHOULD BE MANDATED. DUH?? Carlos, you still sound bitter about your boi being tossed to the curb! while the clear majority of Americans are rejoicing! We are waiting for that selfie of you standing next to your LOSER tRump. Your tRumpian do noting herd metality is not working, so now that we have someone with a brain as President, he is going to attack this with a effective plan as should have been done at the start of this plamdemic.

Dalton Logan

Doug, all you have to do is stay inside and away from everyone and everything, protect yourself, don't go out don't drive or go to the store. You can have everything delivered. You will out survive the rest of us.[thumbup]

Chuck DiFalco

This man (Governor Abbott) might be inconsistent with details, but he is neither irresponsible nor incompetent when he declares no more shutdowns. In fact, those like you Mr. Sivyer who advocate more shutdowns, which are implicit in handing over public policy decision making to unelected statisticians, are the irresponsible ones. More shutdowns mean that Great Depression 2.0 will be worse than it would be if we all declared a moratorium on shutdowns. Mass poverty in an economic depression means global non-COVID sickness, disease, despair, and death. And then there are mass killings during the wars that come with depressions.

Dan Freeman

H’mm, which Republican Governor do you prefer Mr. Ponce? South Dakota led by Governor Kristin Noem who refused to mask the state or shut down but supports President Trump with a 7,000 person rally at Mount Rushmore. She welcomed hundreds of thousands to the Sturgis Rally. Today SD has among the worst infection rates in the country at 8 percent and 705 deaths.

In contrast Republican Governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, shut the state down beginning in April and continues a state wide mask mandate. It has the lowest infection rate in the country, 0.5 percent, and 61 deaths.

Both states are rural and have a population under one million. They both have similar employment rates.

Do we want to be like SD or VT? Mask up, wash up, stay home, and stay apart.

Carlos Ponce

Governor Kristin Noem is easy on the eyes.[love]

Wayne D Holt

Dan, since your post is verbatim from another story (perfectly fine with me) I will add my response I made on the other page:

Until both both states are using the same testing protocols which include 1) how the samples are collected; 2) how many amplification cycles of the RT-PCR test is being used to isolate the RNA that has been associated with the virus presence; 3) how many times people may be re-tested if they show positive on the first sample; 4) what each state assumes to be a viral load significant enough to infect others and similar factors, we have nothing to base your conclusion on, Dan. For every headline like you offer, I can provide another from Oxford trained pathologists, researchers at leading epidemiological institutes, those in the medical filtration industry and other experts who will directly contradict those "facts."

The science is settled on this? The science is unsettled and anyone who is making conclusions from such poorly drawn data sets risks coming away with a firm belief in something that is far from proven, in the accepted scientific sense.

Beyond that, Gov. Abbott is doing exactly what should have been done from the beginning: put the responsibility for personal health in the hands of each person. If you see me without a mask, you are free to move as far away from me as you like; you will not see any negative reaction from me because I respect your right to protect yourself in the manner you see fit. When you force mandates on people you are telling them 1) you do not trust their judgement and wish to substitute yours; 2) you do not respect the idea that those who are entrusted to choose the leaders of the free world are not competent to choose what type of medical response to make to this virus. Both of those propositions should be unacceptable to a free people.

Cases DO NOT = symptoms; the vast majority of those cases had to be told by someone in a lab coat they had this "disease." Symptoms DO NOT= infectiousness because the exact same symptoms are manifested by a number of other diseases and Covid fails one or more of Koch's postulates, which have been a truism for modern medicine for over a century. An infectious agent may be considered to be a sufficient cause for a disease if it satisfies Koch's postulates. Failing that, it suggests that the infectious agent is a necessary, but insufficient, cause for a disease. There is no generally agreed upon level of viral load necessary to deem one "infectious."

What we have been trained over the past months to call Covid-19 Virus in fact is just a gene sequence model that was hypothesized as the causative agent for a disease which does not display unique symptomatic distress.

There are so many holes in the Covid-19 story it is almost as useless as paper strung across the face to satisfy emergency decrees of no constitutional support.

Charlotte O'rourke

But is she easy on your lungs & life? Deaths per million for states: South Dakota #14 versus Vermont at last place. Sometimes it’s good to be last.

Carlos Ponce

Governor Kristin Noem is easy on the eyes. That's as far as I will go. Her husband would get upset.[scared]

Stephanie Martin

Thank you Governor Abbott.

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