Texas Gov. Greg Abbott paused any further phases to reopen the state on Thursday and issued an order to ensure hospital beds be available for Covid-19 patients.
Abbott’s moves came as his state, California and Florida — the three-most populous — set records for new coronavirus cases daily amid fears of “apocalyptic” surges in major Texas cities if the trend continues.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a budget emergency to free up $16 billion to fight the pandemic, according to a release from his office.
And the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the US has only counted about 10% of coronavirus infections. That might mean as many as 20 million Americans have been infected.
Officially, coronavirus has killed at least 122,238 people and infected almost 2.4 million nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins.
Florida and Texas announced Wednesday that they had recorded more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases the prior day, a new daily record. California reported more than 7,000 cases, obliterating a record hit a day earlier.
Florida passed 5,000 again on Thursday, according to new state data.
Florida, Texas, and California account for 27.4% of the 328 million people living in the US, according to the latest US Census Bureau estimates.
‘A temporary pause,’ Texas governor says Abbott previously had said he wanted to move to the next phase and be fully opened by July 4.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is going backward and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” Abbott said in a release.
Earlier this month, he announced the state was moving into its Phase III, meaning the most businesses could operate at up to 50% capacity.
He suspended all elective surgeries in hospitals in four counties that are home to the cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. The counties have had “significant increases” in Covid-19 hospitalizations, Abbott said.
Any procedure not immediately necessary to correct a serious medical condition or preserve life will be postponed.
“As we work to contain this virus, I urge all Texans to do their part to help contain the spread by washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask, and practicing social distancing,” Abbott said in a statement.
In California, the budget has gone from a $21 billion surplus to a $54.3 billion deficit in a matter of months, decimated by the economic demands of the pandemic.
Newsom’s proclamation clears the way for the legislature to use a $16 billion rainy funds to respond to the pandemic. Expenditures include personal protective equipment, medical equipment, and services to protect vulnerable populations.