Greg Abbott

State of Texas COVID-19 Face Coverings Executive Order

Original Broadcast 2 July 2020

Audio AR-XE mp3 of Address

Official Texas Government Face Coverings Executive Order pdf


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Texans are resilient. We are tough and we are determined. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to. And thatís exactly what we did in April when we slowed the spread of COVID-19. It's what we did in May when we opened back up, as we also lowered the positivity rate to just 4.5 percent and we kept hospitalizations flat.

But, in the past few weeks, there has been a swift and a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, so we need to refocus on slowing the spread -- but this time we want to do it without closing down Texas again.

As Iíve said before, if the positivity rate or the hospitalization rate increase too much, we have ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 without mandating stay-at-home policies. Both of those danger zones have now been triggered.

First, I want to show a graph showing the daily number of people testing positive. As you can tell, in the last half of May Texas averaged about 1500 positive cases a day. This past week, that number quadrupled to more than 6,000 positive cases a day.

Next is a graph showing the rise in the positivity rate. The positivity rate surged from 4.5 percent in late May to more than 14 percent today.

Last is a graph showing the rise in hospitalizations. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 averaged less than 1700 a day in the last part of May. This past week that number tripled to more than 5,700 hospitalizations a day. Importantly, these spikes are not limited to just the big cities. More than 91 counties have hit record high numbers in just the past three days.

All together, these numbers reveal a very stark reality: COVID-19 is not going away. In fact, itís getting worse.

Now, more than ever, action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19. For example, hospitals in various regions of the state, theyíre -- they're being strained. Already, reports from some regions show some ICU units nearing capacity. In short, we must do more to slow the spread without locking Texas back down.

Now, there are several things that we can do that are proven to slow the spread. First, if you can, just stay at home. Also, if you can, try to work from home. Now, this is not a stay at home order. This just recognizes reality. If you donít go out, you are less likely to encounter someone who has COVID-19. If you do go out, stay six feet away from others that you are not traveling with.

But of course, one of the best ways to keep businesses open while also slowing the spread is for everyone to wear a face covering like this when they go out. Medical studies have shown that wearing a face covering slows the spread of COVID-19; and it protects you and your family.

That is why today I am issuing a face covering requirement for all counties with more than 20 COVID cases. This safe standard requires Texans to wear a mask in public spaces with certain common sense exceptions.

This requirement is not intended to be punitive. Instead, we just need everyone to do their part to help to slow the spread. Thatís why the first violation of the standard is just a warning. Subsequent violations are subject to a penalty not to exceed 250 dollars.

But let me be clear: No one can ever be put in jail for violating this safe practice. Local law enforcement has the authority to enforce this safety standard just like they do when enforcing seatbelt standards.

Now, I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business, and it will help Texans earn the paycheck they need.

I also know that not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking peopleís lives and ultimately closing more businesses.

Now, itís understandable that our early success -- it may have led people to think that the coast was clear, that it would be okay to relax a little bit. Just a month ago, there were few COVID-19 cases, and hospital space was abundant. Just a month ago, many thought that young adults had no reason to fear COVID-19.

But today, COVID is spreading like never before; and the virus -- it doesnít know, and it doesnít even care, what your age, race, sex, political affiliation, or geographic location is. It will attack anyone, anywhere -- and even do it without showing any symptoms.

We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast there is little margin for error. If we want to avoid lockdowns, if we want to protect those we care about, we need all Texans to join this effort. We have slowed the spread before working together.

We will do it again.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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