Wolfabilene Updates

27 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, 37 new recoveries

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene and the Taylor County Public Health District report 27 total new cases of COVID-19 and 37 additional recoveries.

 

Statistics released Monday show that of the 27 new cases, 17 came from PCR tests and 10 came from antigen tests.

 

There are 40 patients who remain hospitalized, and their current conditions are not known at this time.

 

To-date, 427 antigen tests have been reported positive since June 25. A total of 921 PRC tests have resulted in positive, bringing the total of COVID-19 cases reported in Taylor County to 1,348.

 

Further demographic information for Taylor County’s COVID-19 patients can be found in the graphics below:

 

July 20, 2020 expanded statistics on COVID-19 cases for Taylor County

 

July 20, 2020 COVID-19 testing numbers for Taylor County

 

 

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


31 new cases of COVID-19, 11th death reported in Taylor County

 

TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – There were 31 new cases of COVID-19 and the 11th death of a patient reported in Taylor County Thursday.

 

Statistics released Thursday afternoon show that of the 31 new cases, 20 came from PCR tests and 11 came from antigen tests.

 

The 11th COVID-19 related death in the county was a male in his 80s with pre-existing conditions.

 

Forty-three patients remain hospitalized, and their current conditions are not known at this time. A percentage of these hospitalized patients are in ICU and/or on ventilators.

 

To-date, 10,502 PCR tests have been administered for COVID-19, and 356 antigen tests have been reported positive since June 25.

 

Further demographic information for Taylor County’s COVID-19 patients can be found in the graphics below:

 

 

 

 

By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Change in reporting method boosts total COVID-19 cases to 1,174 in Taylor Co.

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — A change in the way the Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting COVID-19 data has pushed the total number of cases to more than a thousand.

 

The City of Abilene is now reporting PCR results as well as antigen, antibody and probable positive results.

 

Taylor County has 26 new cases of COVID-19 and 1,174 total. Sixteen of the new positive results are from PCR tests, and 10 are from antigen and antibody tests, the city says.

 

There are 50 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, but some of those may not be Taylor County residents, according to the city.

 

The health district is reporting 110 new recoveries and 400 active cases from PCR tests. Active cases from antigen and antibody tests have not been disclosed.

 

A total of 13,703 tests have been conducted. Test numbers include all PCR tests, but only include antigen and antibody tests performed since June 25.

 

In May, the Texas Department of Health Services notified the Taylor County Health District that antibody tests would no longer be counted toward the county’s total, but city officials say the state is asking them to start reporting them again.

 

 

 

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Taylor Co. reports 7th COVID-19 death as cases keep climbing

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 25 new positive COVID-19 results from PCR tests and 11 from antigen tests, and one new virus-related death.

 

The health district says a male in his 50s with underlying health conditions died Wednesday night, becoming the county’s seventh death from COVID-19.

 

The total number of active cases reported from PCR tests is now up to 288, and a total of 223 antigen tests have returned positive results since June 25.

 

There are currently 35 people in the hospital with the virus.

 

The health district says there have been 622 total positive PCR tests, along with 223 antigen positives, bringing the total number of cases up to 845.

 

A total of 9,441 PCR tests have been conducted, up from 9,312 on Wednesday. The total number of antigen tests that have been conducted is currently unavailable.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the image below:

 

 

 

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


30 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, 253 active cases

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Thirty new COVID-19 cases were reported in Taylor County Tuesday, and 21 patients are currently hospitalized.

 

Updated statistics show there are now 253 active cases of COVID-19 in the county.

 

The 30 new COVID-19 positives are all attributed to PCR testing, which has been the gold standard to determine active infections since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 573 PCR positives have been recorded in Abilene to-date.

 

A second type of test – known as antigen testing – is becoming more popular and is also accurate at determining active infections, so the Abilene Taylor County Public Health District has begun releasing statistics on those tests as well.

 

The Health District has received a total of 197 COVID-19 antigen test positives since June 25, 2020.

 

Between the two types of tests, there have been a total of 770 cases since the outbreak began.

 

BigCountryHomepage will keep track of local COVID-19 statistics each day. Check back for the latest information.

 

 

By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texans to wear face coverings in public in counties with more than 20 positive cases

 

 

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that requires all Texans to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth in public spaces, with exceptions.

 

According to the order, this applies to residents of counties with more than 20 positive cases of COVID-19.

 

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings are also included in the order. Gatherings can no longer be over 10 people and, with certain exceptions, groups over 10 must maintain six feet of social distancing.

 

Abbott said in the announcement:

 

“Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”

According to Abbott, the decision came after a surge in cases across Texas, with the Governor saying the daily number of positive tests statewide has quadrupled in a month — to 6,000 positives a day.

 

The Governor says that the consequences for violations are:

 

  1. First Violation — A warning
  2. Violations after will include penalties up to $250.

No one will be jailed for violations, however.

 

“Local law enforcement has the authority to enforce this safety standard,” says Abbott in his video announcement. “Just like they do when enforcing seat belt standards.”

 

 

By: Russell Falcon

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


317th Airlift Wing celebrates historic homecoming at Dyess AFB

 

A C-130J Super Hercules flies over the flightline at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, June 3, 2020. The 317th Airlift Wing recently finished the first round of the new 4/12 C-130 deployment cycle. The 4/12 deployment cycle allows an entire C-130J airlift squadron and their associated maintenance unit to deploy for four months, which allows Airmen a 12 month dwell time at home station before the next scheduled deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell)

 

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (Dyess AFB) — Since September 11, 2001, the 317th Airlift Wing has consistently deployed to Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa to support war efforts, humanitarian relief and, most recently, a global pandemic. The constant necessity for worldwide tactical airlift support keeps Airmen of the 317th AW and 19th AW from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, actively supporting efforts around the world.

All Airmen and aircraft from the 317th AW now have six-to-eight month dwell time before the next deployment. This will be the longest period of time that all Airmen have been at home station since the start of the war on terror.

Creating this time at home was an intentional shift away from a split-squadron “4/4” cycle that maintained a constant deployment-centered mindset.

 

“The previous deployment cycle didn’t really give our Airmen the ability to create stability at home,” said Col. Clint Wilson, 317th Operations Group commander. “It didn’t give our Airmen the opportunity to maximize training while at home because they needed to maximize family time. This impeded our opportunities for other things we do to grow our Airmen.”

The former deployment cycle also wasn’t effective for training 317th AW Airmen to prepare for potential large-scale conflict against future adversaries.

“The 4/4 deployment cycle almost exclusively focused on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in east Africa and Afghanistan,” said Col. Jeff Menasco, 317th AW commander. “With the new National Defense Strategy that came out in 2018, the Department of Defense was asked to transition the focus to great power conflict.”

 

In September 2019, the 317th AW initiated a new deployment rotation cycle designed to deploy an entire airlift squadron and an associated aircraft maintenance unit for four months. This allows airlift and maintenance squadrons from both the 317th AW and the 19th AW up to 12 months of dwell time between deployments.

In order to transition from the 4/4 cycle to the 4/12, 317th AW Airmen conducted 60 day rotations to bolster the deployment gaps leading up to the new rotation.

“We were pushing a lot of people out there,” said Col. Don Vandenbussche, 317th Maintenance Group commander. “They deployed a little more frequently to get through that hump to offset all of the timings with the upcoming deployment cycle.

 

The extra efforts of the 317th AW Airmen that pushed into the 4/12 cycle was imperative to implementing the new deployment incentive.

“It’s important to recognize the Airmen and their families as we surged into the 4/12 deployment construct,” said Menasco. “We did not get a break, we did not take a knee and we deployed a lot. We deployed an entire squadron and the supporting AMU, then we sent the other half out the door and there was no break in between.”

The 317th AW leadership anticipated two key benefits to come from the 4/12 deployment construct; full-spectrum readiness and squadron vitality.

“Full-spectrum readiness is the ability to be fully trained and confident for any fight we may have to execute,” said Menasco. “It’s having the confidence and training to operate in any and all environments.”

Having 99% of the wing at home station for an extended period of time allows 317th AW leadership to conduct extensive and thorough training throughout the wing.

 

“From a maintenance perspective, I have both AMU’s home so now when we train or do an exercise we can do it on a much larger scale,” said Vandenbussche. “We can get much more consistent training because everybody is here.”

Training and readiness is key, but providing Airmen the opportunity to seek personal growth, professional development and family balance will also benefit the 317th AW and its mission.

“I would define squadron vitality as the unit’s ability to focus on the Airmen as individuals,” said Menasco.

Having more stability at home station better allows Airmen and leadership to develop on personal and professional levels.

“This protected time will be great for the vitality of our Airmen,” said Vandenbussche. “They can now plan out their education, family involvement and their time off without worrying about the next deployment around the corner.”

Providing time for Airmen to focus on individual vitality plays a massive role in the wing’s ability to maintain mission readiness.

 

“The 4/12 deployment construct creates time. Time in and of itself doesn’t change anything but it gives you the capacity to change things,” said Menasco. “We will fill that time with readiness and vitality by focusing on the mission, our Airmen and their families.”

 

 

By: Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


14 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total of 366; 3 new hospitalizations

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases.

 

The 14 new positives and five recoveries bring the total number of active cases to 83, and 366 total positive cases reported in Taylor County this year.

 

There have been 8,183 tests administered, and 278 have recovered.

 

Six people are currently hospitalized with the virus in Taylor County.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the image below:

 

Latest COVID-19 testing numbers for June 29, 2020

 

Expanded information on COVID-19 positive cases

 

 

By: Martin Mercado

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


City of Abilene 'will not enforce the Governor's Executive Order' to shut down bars, limit outdoor gatherings

 

This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. Research released on Thursday, May 28, 2020 shows how dangerous the coronavirus is for current and former cancer patients. Those who developed COVID-19 were much more likely to die within a month than people without cancer who got it, two studies found. (NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP)

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene says they ‘will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order’ to shut down bars and limit outdoor gatherings.

 

City Manager Robert Hanna instead encouraged business owners and citizens to follow the orders to the best extent they can. 

 

Governor Greg Abbott issued the order to all of Texas Friday morning, saying bars must close at 12:00 p.m. and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 100 people unless local governments give approval to larger events.

 

In light of the order, Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna released a statement that reads in part, “the City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can.”

 

However, the City says TABC will likely work to enforce the shutdown of local bars.

 

Outdoor gatherings scheduled for June and July will likely still be able to take place in Abilene, but any other events are subject to cancellation.

 

Right now, masks are not required but encouraged for those who choose to do so. Social distancing is still recommended and if possible – avoid large crowds.

 

The following list of some local events are set for June and July:

 

  • Rock the Swenson House: June 26
  • Big Country Swap Meet: June 26-27
  • Abilene Freedom Festival: July 4

 

Mayor Anthony Williams, addressing residents on Facebook, further explained the order and how the City of Abilene is dealing with it. He said the local hospitals were at 4 percent capacity.

 

On Thursday, Hendrick Health System CEO Brad Holland addressed the capacity. He said although we will likely see an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations, Hendrick has “plenty of capacity at this time,” and are holding 15% capacity for future COVID patients.

 

Mayor Williams said those who have events are asked to email him at anthony.williams@abilenetx.gov to seek guidance.

 

According to the Mayor, he and health officials will meet next week to further discuss the order and the current status of COVID-19.

 

Read City Manager Robert Hanna’s full statement below:

 

The City of Abilene under the advice of the City Attorney, will not enforce the Governor’s Executive Order, BUT we encourage all business owners and citizens to use common sense, and to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders to the extent they can. In regards to bars and restaurants, TABC will likely work to enforce the Governor’s Executive Order. 

 

Any immediate events scheduled in June and July will likely proceed, but events further out I cannot speak to at this time. All that being said, the City reserves the right to cancel outdoor gatherings over 100 attendees if the public’s health is endangered. We will rely on hospitalizations and infection rates to make these determinations. The message folks need to hear is that they need to use common sense, and be responsible. Avoid large crowds, social distance, if you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask respect those that do and avoid antagonizing folks or standing or walking within six feet of them. Basically be kind to one another and look out for each other. Pretty simple rules to live by.

 

 

By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Taylor County reports 9 new cases of COVID-19, 71 now active

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Taylor County is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19 and 71 are now considered active.

 

Statistics released Thursday show there have been 327 cases recorded by the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District to-date and more than 7,800 cases have been administered.

 

Four patients are hospitalized in Abilene, but the majority of the positive cases are self isolating.

 

Demographic information and a breakdown of common COVID-19 symptoms among Taylor County patients can be found in the graphics below:

 

 

 

 

By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Taylor Co. Commissioners Court decides not to continue the burn ban ahead of 4th of July weekend

 

burn ban lifted_1491166891322.jpg

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Taylor County Commissioners Court decided on a meeting Tuesday morning not to continue the burn ban.

 

Randy Wilson proposed to extend the burn barn, but no one else voted in favor.

 

With the fourth of July quickly approaching, patrons can visit their local fireworks stands in Taylor County. 

 

Any use or selling of fireworks within city limits in Taylor County is strictly prohibited, and any use of fireworks outside of one’s own private property outside of city limits is also prohibited.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


9 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total of 298

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19.

 

The new positive results bring the total number of cases reported in the county to 298.

 

A total of 7,600 tests have been conducted, and 247 have recovered, bringing the active number of cases to 46.

 

There are currently three COVID-19 related hospitalizations.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the image below.

 

Latest COVID-19 testing numbers as of June 22, 2020

 

Expanded statistics for COVID-19 cases as of June 22, 2020

 

 

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


10 new COVID-19 cases reported in Taylor Co.

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19.

 

The 10 new positive results bring the total number of cases reported in the county to 278.

 

A total of 7,354 tests have been conducted, and 246 have recovered, bringing the active number of cases to 27.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the image below.

 

 

 

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Gov. Abbott to give update on COVID-19, Texas' hospital capacity Tuesday

 

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will be holding a news conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Texas Capitol to give an update on the state’s hospital capacity as a spike in COVID-19 cases continues.

 

Gov. Abbott will be joined by former lawmaker Dr. John Zerwas, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs of the University of Texas, who is part of the Governor’s supply chain strike force. Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd will also be there.

 

Hospitalizations have slowly been increasing since the beginning of the month. According to data from DSHS, 2,326 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized as of June 15. On June 1, there were 1,756 hospitalizations reported.

 

Back in April, Dr. Zerwas presented the state’s plan to respond if hospitalizations continue to increase. At that time, Texas was at Level 5. For context, there were 826 COVID-19 patients hospitalized on April 4, which was two days after this plan was released.

 

  • Level 5: Maintain Staffed Beds. This means supporting hospital systems so they can maintain their current capacity.
  • Level 4: Surge to Physical Beds. This aims to enable hospitals to open all physical beds and double the occupancy, which is part of one of the governor’s executive orders.
  • Level 3: Surge Inside Facility: This signals a transition to non-traditional care areas within the hospital, such as an operating room or PACU to care for COVID-19 patients.
  • Level 2: Surge to Adjacent Building. This would mean opening additional capacity in adjacent medical offices or convalescent centers supported by the hospital.
  • Level 1: Surge to Building of Op. This stage would include beds in alternate care sites in remote areas, such as hotels, motels and pop-up hospitals.

 

In an interview Monday, Gov. Abbott commented on the increase in hospitalizations across the state.

 

“Even though there are more people who are hospitalized, outcomes remain good,” Abbott said, “But in addition to that, capacity remains plentiful. Even though more hospital beds are occupied by those who have COVID-19, there are an abundant number of hospital beds that are available, whether it be in Lubbock are these large cities, so we will be able to make sure that we can treat and provide health care for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.”

 

Right now, there are 51,365 staffed beds in Texas, 14,525 of which are available. There are 1,626 ICU beds available and 5,626 ventilators available as of June 15.

 

The briefing will be streamed on KXAN.com and on our Facebook page.

 

 

By: Maggie Glynn

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


In rural Texas, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more accessible mental health care

 

The coronavirus pandemic has created widespread fear and economic anxiety across Texas, and mental health experts and advocates say rural areas — which already had fewer providers and higher rates of suicide and drug overdoses — could see more severe mental health impacts than the state’s urban areas. They are predicting a lingering wave of trauma and depression even after the pandemic’s immediate effects recede and lockdowns lift.

 

But it’s not all bad news. Although the pandemic has aggravated existing problems, the speedy rollout of telemedicine may prove to be a boon for rural residents who urgently need mental health care.

 

“There’s a lot of bad things happening right now because of COVID-19,” said Andy Keller, president and CEO of the Texas-based Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “But in some ways, people in rural Texas have better access to health care than they’d ever had before. All the barriers to them accessing physicians across the state have been lifted.”

 

A view of downtown Moody.

A view of downtown Moody. (Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune)

 

In April, Gov. Greg Abbott temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth, allowing mental health care providers and local mental health authorities to broadly expand services and collect reimbursement for online appointments more easily. The state also implemented a mental health hotline in March that offers free over-the-phone support and provides resources and information to callers who need help.

 

At Texas Tech University — which has long been a pioneer in telemedicine — Sarah Wakefield, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the school’s Health Sciences Center, said she’s seen a “huge spike” in telemedicine appointments since the pandemic began.

 

Although mental health care can be easier over video calls, Keller says calling in with a cellphone can be just as helpful and doesn't require an internet connection. That’s especially important for rural areas, where another barrier to adequate treatment is lack of broadband access. About 440,000 of the half-million Texas households without access to broadband are in rural Texas.

 

Barbara Vinson is a Seguin resident and the founder of the Guadalupe County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, where she runs support groups and therapy sessions. When in-person meetings were canceled, she urged members to continue checking in regularly online or by phone.

 

“The technology part is difficult for some people out here, it’s so new,” Vinson said. “Some people don’t have laptops, they just have flip phones they paid $50 for. So technology is an issue, but they get through it. And with time they’ve gotten more comfortable.”

 

Vinson regularly calls and emails members to stay in touch. If someone tells her they are having a crisis, she counsels them through it and then offers additional resources. And while she can’t say for sure if there have been more distress calls than usual, the Facebook page she runs has gained dozens of new followers in the past three months.

 

Now, more than ever, Vinson says her neighbors in Seguin and its outlying areas are hungry for information about mental health resources.

 

The pandemic has almost certainly exacerbated existing anxiety or depression diagnoses and brought on new ones, said Alison Boleware, a director for the National Association of Social Workers in Texas. Social workers and therapists in the state have their hands full with an influx of both old and new patients.

 

Experts are anticipating rising cases of depression and suicide, addiction and overdose; Keller calls these the “diseases of despair” that are aggravated by unemployment and economic stagnation. For every 1% increase in unemployment, the Meadows Institute estimates about 60 more people in Texas will die from suicide annually while 100 will die from drug overdoses.

 

And for rural Texans, the stigma of seeking help for mental issues can also be a significant obstacle. Some Texans still view mental health issues as a moral failing, Boleware said.

 

“We know there are still some pockets of Texans who might not feel as open to seeking mental health treatment or might not feel comfortable because of how it's viewed in their communities,” Boleware said. “In rural areas, there is a ‘pick yourselves up by the bootstraps’ mentality.’”

 

That’s something Catherine, who asked not to be identified by her last name, knows all too well. The 45-year-old technical writer was diagnosed with clinical depression as a teenager and said her isolation after stay-at-home orders heightened her anxiety and increased her feelings of loneliness. She lives alone and worries frequently about her teenage daughter and her elderly parents, who live in different parts of the state.

 

And living in Denison, a town with 20,000 residents about 75 miles north of Dallas, has not helped, Catherine said.

 

When she lived in New York years ago, “no one would bat an eye if you talked about your therapy at dinner. Whereas here, the opinion would be, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” Catherine said.

 

In March, Catherine was able to make online appointments with her psychiatrist, who is based in Sherman. She also got a prescription for a new anxiety medication to help control the panic attacks she’s had during the pandemic.

 

Catherine has had two telehealth appointments since then and says she now prefers them over in-person appointments; for one, she doesn’t have to see anyone in the waiting room.

 

For now, experts are hopeful for telehealth’s potential to improve mental health care in rural Texas. Keller said that if Abbott’s emergency telemedicine waiver becomes permanent, providers can continue expanding coverage and hopefully reach the historically underserved communities they haven’t been able to penetrate before.

 

“Bad things happen, and we figure out how to deal with them," Keller said. “This pandemic has been a disruption that in some ways has forced people to do what they should have been doing all along.”

 

How to get help

 

Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 800-985-5990, text "TalkWithUs" to 66749, or visit disasterdistress.samhsa.gov or facebook.com/distresshelpline

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

 

Texas COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: 833-986-1919

 

Disclosure: Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas and Texas Tech University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. 

 

"In rural Texas, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more accessible mental health care" was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/06/09/coronavirus-texas-rural-mental-health-telehealth/ by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

 

 

By: Raga Justin, Texas Tribune

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved


3 new positive results, 6 active COVID-19 cases in Taylor Co.

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.

 

The health district says there were also five recoveries, bringing the total number of currently active cases to six.

 

There have been a total of 252 positive cases reported in Taylor County, 6,845 tests conducted, and five deaths.

 

There is currently no one in Taylor County hospitalized with COVID-19.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the image below.

 

 

 

 

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


3 new COVID-19 cases in Taylor Co. brings active cases up to 28

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District is reporting three new cases of COVID-19.

 

The health district says there were no new recoveries to report.

 

The three new positive test results bring the total number of reported cases to 245, with 28 of those being active, and one person remaining in the hospital.

 

There have been 212 recoveries and 5,731 tests conducted.

 

Further demographic information can be found in the graphic below:

 

 

 

 

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


No new COVID-19 cases in Taylor County, total remains 241

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene and the Taylor-County Public Health District report no new positive cases of COVID-19. The total remains 241 with 25 active cases.

 

Most of those patients, 211, have recovered. However, 25 patients are currently in self-isolation, and one patient is hospitalized. Five patients in Taylor County have died.

 

Statistics show that most patients are white and under the age of 50, and most have contracted the virus by coming into contact with a confirmed positive case.

 

Sixty-six cases have been labeled as ‘community spread’, and only 8 cases are related to travel.

 

Common symptoms of COVID-19 locally include fever and cough. These ailments have been presenting in at least two-thirds of the positive cases.

 

Latest COVID-19 testing numbers as of June 2, 2020

 

Expanded statistics for COVID-19 cases as of June 2, 2020

 

 

 

By: 

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


City of Abilene extends COVID-19 disaster declaration

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The City of Abilene has extended their COVID-19 disaster declaration.

 

During a special-called city council meeting Monday morning, council members voted almost unanimously to extend the current declaration.

 

Councilman Weldon Hurt was the only member against the extension.

 

According to Mayor Anthony Williams, the declaration will allow the city to receive funds from FEMA if available.

 

The declaration was accepted following the Governor’s Executive Order GA-23, which supersedes any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

 

A local order may not restrict essential services or reopened services allowed by the Governor’s orders, it may not allow gatherings prohibited by the Governor’s orders, and it may not expand the list of essential services or the list or scope of reopened services as set forth in the Governor’s orders.

 

 

By: Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Texas will extend early voting period this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott says

 

Gov. Greg Abbott said he will extend the early voting period for an unspecified amount of time during the November election as concerns continue to persist around in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Abbott has already doubled the time period for the primary runoff election July 14, calling it necessary so that "election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices."

 

In a TV interview Thursday afternoon, Abbott was asked if he believes Texas voters will be able to cast their ballots safely not only this summer but also in the fall.

 

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a strike force in charge of laying steps to reopen the Texas economy at a press conference last month.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a strike force in charge of laying steps to reopen the Texas economy at a press conference last month. (Photo: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

 

"We do, and for this reason, and that is ... Texas has always had early voting, and what I did for the July time period and what we will do again for the November time period is we will extend the early voting period," Abbott said in the interview with KCBD in Lubbock. "And what that does — it allows more people to go vote early in settings that are not highly congregated. As a result, you can go vote without having to worry about a whole bunch of people being around you that you could contract COVID-19 from. That makes voting a lot safer [of a] setting than it would otherwise be with the shortened early voting time period."

 

Abbott did not elaborate on how much time he would add to the early voting period for the November election. For the July runoffs, he moved up the beginning of the early voting period from July 6 to June 29. The last day remains July 10.

 

Early voting for the Nov. 3 election is set to start Oct. 19 and end Oct. 30.

 

Texas is battling lawsuits at the state and federal levels seeking to expand voting by mail as a result of the pandemic. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against such efforts Wednesday, the latest development in a quick-moving legal saga that is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

"Texas will extend early voting period this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott says" was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/05/28/texas-2020-early-voting-greg-abbott-coronavirus/ by The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune is proud to celebrate 10 years of exceptional journalism for an exceptional state.

 

 

By: Patrick Svitek

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved


American virus deaths at 100,000: What does a number mean?

 

FILE – In this May 22, 2020, file photo, a raindrop falls from an American flag at half-staff at the Washington Monument, in Washington. President Donald Trump ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff for a three day period in remembrance of Americans who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

 

(AP) – The fraught, freighted number of this particular American moment is a round one brimming with zeroes: 100,000. A hundred thousands. A thousand hundreds. Five thousand score. More than 8,000 dozen. All dead.

 

On Wednesday, the United States’ official reported coronavirus death toll reached six digits. One hundred thousand lives wiped out by a disease unknown to science a half a year ago.

 

And as the unwanted figure arrives — nearly a third of the global death toll in the first five months of a very trying year — what can looking at that one and those five zeroes tell us? What does any number deployed in momentous times to convey scope and seriousness and thought really mean?

 

“We all want to measure these experiences because they’re so shocking, so overwhelming that we want to bring some sense of knowability to the unknown,” says Jeffrey Jackson, a history professor at Rhodes College in Tennessee who teaches about the politics of natural disasters.

 

This is not new. In the mid-1800s, a new level of numerical precision was emerging in Western society around the same time the United States fought the Civil War. Facing such massive death and challenges counting the dead, Americans started to realize that numbers and statistics represented more than knowledge; they contained power, according to historian Drew Gilpin Faust.

 

“Their provision of seemingly objective knowledge promised a foundation for control in a reality escaping the bounds of the imaginable,” Faust wrote in “This Republic of Suffering,” her account of how the Civil War changed Americans’ relationship with death.

 

“Numbers,” she wrote, “represented a means of imposing sense and order on what Walt Whitman tellingly depicted as the `countless graves’ of the `infinite dead.’”

 

Today’s Americans have precedents for visualizing and understanding 100,000 people — dead and alive. They have numerous comparisons at hand.

 

For example: Beaver Stadium, seen often on TV as the home to Penn State football and one of the country’s largest sports venues, holds 106,572 people when full. The 2018 estimated population of South Bend, Indiana, was 101,860. About 100,000 people visit the Statue of Liberty every 10 days.

 

The total amount of U.S. Civil War deaths — combat and otherwise — was 655,000. For World War I it was more than 116,000, for World War II more than 405,000 and for the Korean and Vietnam wars more than 36,000 and more than 58,000 respectively. Those don’t include non-U.S. deaths.

 

Gun violence killed more than 37,000 people a year on average between 2014 and 2018 in the United States. And 9/11 took exactly 2,996 lives, a figure that the U.S. coronavirus tally passed in early April.

 

At some point with numbers, though, things start feeling more abstract and less comprehensible. This has informed the methodology of remembering the Holocaust by humanizing it: The death of 6 million Jews, after all, among many others, is a figure so enormous that it resists comprehension.

 

“It’s really hard for people to grasp statistics when it comes to numbers after a certain scale,” says Lorenzo Servitje, an assistant professor of literature and medicine at Lehigh University.

 

“Can you picture 30,000 people Or 50,000 people? And when you get into the millions, what do you even do with that?” he says. “It’s so outside of our everyday life that it’s hard to grasp meaning from them.”

 

The New York Times tried to address that problem Sunday, dedicating its entire front page to naming the virus dead — an exercise that, even in a tiny typeface, only captured 1% of those now gone. “A count,” the newspaper said, “reveals only so much.”

 

Adding to the complexity is how different coronavirus deaths are from, say, a 9/11, a mass shooting or a cataclysmic natural disaster. Unlike those, the COVID saga is unfolding gradually over time, growing steadily more severe, and resists the time-tested American appetite for loud and immediate storylines.

 

“Each day we’ve become accustomed to the new reality that we don’t realize how far we’ve traveled from what normal is,” says Daryl Van Tongeren, an associate professor of psychology at Hope College in Michigan who studies how people find meaning in suffering.

 

Our brains, he says, are wired to be empathetic to suffering — to a point.

 

“With too much suffering over time, it’s overwhelming and we begin to become callous. And our empathy essentially runs out,” Van Tongeren says. “We’re so accustomed to death right now, at 100,000, that our empathy has become lower.”

 

Finally, there are numbers living within the round 100,000 number that cry out for their own interpretations. The disproportionate number of dead Americans of color, for example. Or the systematic way the disease is ravaging places where older Americans live, taking them in numbers that — if they were dying in mass shootings — might provoke a very different kind of reaction.

 

Don’t focus so much on the numbers, some admonish. Others criticize official counts, calling them inflated and inaccurate. More likely, because of spotty testing and undiagnosed cases, the number 100,000 falls significantly short.

 

But regardless of whether 100,000 has already truly happened or is yet to come, the meaning of this numerical milestone — human-imposed though it may be — raises some fundamental questions.

 

Have we decided to live with death, at least to a point? What would it mean if, around Labor Day, we reconvened in this space to discuss the 200,000th dead American? What would that number cause us to contemplate?

 

In the 14th century, the Black Death ravaged humanity, taking many millions. No one knows how many died. Today, when the dead are counted, some coherence is reached. The thinking is this: If the virus can’t be stopped, at least it can be quantified by human effort — far more palatable than a society where we couldn’t even establish who was no longer among us.

 

“As humans we like clean stories,” says Roland Minton, a mathematics professor at Roanoke College in Virginia. “And classifying things by number of digits can be a nice, clear way of classifying things.”

 

So when Whitman wrote of “countless graves,” he was not merely being poetic. Then, the idea of uncounted dead was more than metaphor; it was a direct description of what had happened.

 

Replacing that situation with accurate numbers, as society grew more sophisticated, did not solve everything. But it was something. Just as 100,000 means something this week in American life. Maybe not everything — not a vaccine, not a treatment — and maybe not clarity, exactly. Not yet. But something.

 

 

By: Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Coronavirus Relief Program for Texas agricultural producers now accepting applications

 

 

ABILENE, Texas — Texas agricultural producers who have suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for assistance from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, according to the office of U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

 

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will pay up to $16 billion to farmers and ranchers across America. The program is jointly-funded by the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and other USDA authorities.

 

Farmers, ranchers and producers who have suffered a 5% or larger price decline or those who have losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19 and face significant market costs may be eligible for this program.

 

“Because of the pandemic and its forced closures, many of Texas’ agricultural producers have experienced a lapse in demand or added logistical challenges that have greatly affected their bottom line,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Through legislation, Congress has delivered targeted relief for Texas farmers and ranchers needing a lifeline, and I’m pleased to announce that applications for that relief open today.”

 

For information on how to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program click here.

 

 

By AJ Gersh

Copyright © 2020, KTXS12 ABC. All Rights Reserved


City of Abilene reports no new COVID-19 cases

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – There are no new positive cases of COVID-19 in Abilene Monday, and so far, 188 people have recovered from the virus.

 

According to the city, a total of 230 positive cases have been recorded in the County, 4,391 tests have been administered. and 37 cases are still active.

 

This number varies drastically from the 350-odd cases reported just weeks ago because the State of Texas recently requested the City of Abilene stop including positive results from the prison units, which are in Jones County, and results based on antibody tests.

 

Currently, city officials are working to recalculate demographic information, so statistics about the patients’ ages, common symptoms, and more are not available at this time.

 

Two patients are currently hospitalized, though nothing has been disclosed about their current conditions.

 

Five deaths are also being attributed to COVID-19 in Abilene. The number was initially 6, but one of the deceased patients resided in another county.

 

 

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


No new COVID-19 cases in Abilene, 184 people recovered

 

 

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – There are no new positive cases of COVID-19 in Abilene Friday, and so far, 184 people have recovered from the virus.

 

There are still 228 positive cases of COVID-19 recorded by the City, and 4,339 tests have been administered. Thirty-nine cases are still active.

 

This number varies drastically from the 350-odd cases reported just weeks ago because the State of Texas recently requested the City of Abilene stop including positive results from the prison units, which are in Jones County, and results based on antibody tests.

 

Currently, city officials are working to recalculate demographic information, so statistics about the patients’ ages, common symptoms, and more are not available at this time.

 

Three patients are currently hospitalized, though nothing has been disclosed about their current conditions.

 

Five deaths are also being attributed to COVID-19 in Abilene. The number was initially 6, but one of the deceased patients resided in another county.

 

 

By: Erica Garner

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved


Texas has entered Phase 2 expansion for reopening businesses, Gov. Abbott announces

 

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect zoos will reopen on May 29, you sports will be allowed to start May 31 and youth clubs can start immediately.

 

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas has entered Phase 2 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s expansion and reopening of businesses across the state.

 

In a news conference at the Texas Capitol on Monday afternoon, Abbott announced that more Texas businesses will be allowed to either reopen or open at larger capacity.

 

Businesses that will be able to reopen immediately include child care facilities, massage parlors, and youth clubs like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

 

On Friday, May 22, several other businesses will be able to open at 25% capacity, including bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and aquariums. On May 29, zoos will reopen, also at 25% capacity. Restaurants will be able to expand to 50% capacity.

 

On May 31, youth sports and professional sports can resume in Texas. Professional sports will not be able to have fans. Youth sports can have one parent watch, but they must follow social distancing rules. More specifically, youth sports can start practice on May 31 and games on June 15.

 

Guidelines for reopening bars

 

For bars, the state has established the following guidelines:

 

  • People should remain seated at tables when inside
  • No tables of more than six people
  • Dancing is “discouraged”
  • Hand sanitizer stations should be at entryways
  • There should be six feet of distance between parties

 

Gov. Abbott says these rules will be enforced by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. If local officials receive a complaints about bars in compliance, the TABC will investigate. The Commission has the power to suspend a bar’s liquor license for 30 days on the first offense and 60 days for the second.

 

“Customers are going to go where they feel safe and a brewery or bar that is packing people and not paying attention I don’t think is going to be all that successfully and will probably be called out for it, as they should,” said Jeffrey Stuffings, the co-owner of the Jester King Brewery and Kitchen.

 

Stuffings has already begun making plans to care for customers. He will request reservations for parties, something he never did in the past. At different points in the day, the entire 50+ acres will be shut down for a deep sanitation.

 

Although the Jester King can comfortably fit around 600 people, he will be limiting his occupancy to around 50 to begin.

 

“There is going to be quite a bit of distance between tables,” Stuffings said.

 

Abbott: ‘No indication’ another shutdown will be needed

 

During the news conference, Abbott said that since Texas entered Phase 1 of reopenings, the state has not seen any indication that the state would need to shut down again.

 

“What we announced today for two regions of Texas is a temporary pause for one week of when they were able to reopen. And so, what our primary goal will be is not to go to a point of retrenchment, but just slow the opening,” Abbott explained.

 

He said the state is prepared to handle the spikes in cases in certain areas of the state, including the panhandle.

 

“We’ve seen spikes happen before. We’ve seen the containment of spikes take place. And so we know how to do this. So as we move forward, we will be prepared to deal with spikes and expect a similar response in the future to the success that we’ve seen in the past,” Abbott said.

 

Despite the expanded reopenings, Gov. Abbott stressed that Texans keep utilizing safe distancing and hygiene practices, including wearing face masks, washing hands and sanitizing areas.

 

“It is a fact that these safe practices save lives,” said Abbott.

 

“Today, tomorrow and every day going forward is one day closer to medical discoveries that will treat and protect people from getting COVID-19,” said Abbott. “Until that day, our focus is to keep you safe while also restoring your ability to get back to work. To open businesses to pay your bills, to put food on your table… a way to coexist with COVID-19.”

 

What this means for child care and summer camps

 

The new executive order allows childcare facilities to resume caring for all children. For the last two months or so, providers could only care for children whose parents work at essential businesses.

 

And come May 31, summer camps can open too.

 

Joan Altobelli, Vice President of Licensed Childcare at Extend-A-Care YMCA said this year’s YMCA Summer Day Camp is going to look a lot different, compared to the previous ones.

 

“It’s going to be only those camps that we feel we can do safely with all of the precautionary techniques in place,” she said.

 

Altobelli explained, the YMCA will review how many sites it can open, how many kids it can accept, based on capacity limitations and what kind of activities will be safe. That means a program that normally serves 3,000 children will be significantly smaller.

 

She said they’ll accept enrollment on a first-come, first-serve basis.

 

“We have a timestamp on each application, so we all know who registered timely and can fit in, and then others will need possibly to make other arrangements if we can’t, um, serve them,” Altobelli said.

 

She told KXAN the YMCA recently did a survey to see how many parents were going to send their children to summer camps this year. Fourteen percent said highly unlikely. Thirty-five percent said yes, and about half were still waiting for more information on the virus.

 

The state has issued a checklist for summer camps.

 

Altobelli said the YMCA’s staff those requirements are in line with what they’ve been doing since March.

 

She explained, “There’s a questionnaire where the parents have to tell us if they’ve had recently any symptoms or fever, if they’ve been around anyone with symptoms or fever. They then get their temperature taken by our staff, and the staff wears a mask and the child wears a mask inside if they don’t have a fever.”

 

According to Altobelli, temperatures are taken every four hours as well.

 

For childcare centers getting ready to welcome back more of its students, Stephanie Retherford at the Learning Experience said, “I feel like we’ve been asking and asking like, we’ve opened up these businesses and we can’t take these kids and we felt a little bit forgotten, and we are so grateful that the announcement was made today and that we now have our plan of action.”

 

The Regional Vice President said many childcare centers will need this week to bring back furloughed employees.

 

“We’re also going to be making preparation to make sure we have enough touchless thermometers and that we have enough gloves and paper towels and everything on hand to make sure that we continue to be the safest possible care,” Retherford said.

 

She also said the safety checklist is something they got used to doing over the last two months or so.

 

“So we got used to them and we’ve been able to handle them. And actually I would say it’s been a very positive addition to our programs,” Retherford said.

 

“So I think we’re really at ease with the way that this has gone and we agree that they should continue.”

 

Monitoring the outbreak

 

The state’s entry into Phase 2, according to Abbott, is the result of several metrics, including the positivity rate.

 

According to a chart shown during the news conference, Abbott explained that as of April 17, the seven-day average of positive test results was 13.86%.

 

On May 17, the positivity rate was 4.97% — a large dip.

 

You can view the positivity rate chart below:

 

View image on Twitter

 

In a press call after Abbott’s announcement, Texas Democratic leaders said his analysis of the data is misleading.

 

‘Today it’s clear he is simply cherry picking the data,” State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, and chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said. “The governor glosses over the fact that the number of new cases reported has grown in the last two weeks. He glosses over the fact that the number of deaths reported tragically has increased in the last two weeks.”

 

Democrats have criticized the state’s testing ability, which the Republican governor said has grown exponentially.

 

“In just the first half of May, we more than doubled the number of tests that were given in all of March and April combined,” Abbott said.

 

Additional factors in expanded reopenings, according to the governor, are Texas’ growing supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Abbott said that the state currently distributes over 1 million face masks per day.

 

Currently, Texas is performing about 25,000 tests per day, the governor said.

 

The reopening rules do not apply to all counties just yet, Abbott said. Because the Amarillo region is considered a hot spot for coronavirus due to outbreaks at meat-packing plants and the El Paso area is not equipped to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients at its hospitals, far West Texas and the Panhandle will not move into Phase Two until May 29. The counties that are not expanding just yet are Randall, Potter, Moore, Deaf Smith and El Paso, Abbott said.

 

Under the governor’s plan, employers and employees should implement screening measures as more Texans return to work.

 

As outlined in Abbott’s updated guidance, gyms reopened Monday, with certain conditions explained on the Governor’s “Open Texas” website, starting at 25% occupancy. Those guidelines include proper social distancing and sanitizing. Customers should wear gloves while using equipment. Locker rooms and showers will not yet be allowed for reopening Monday. Manufacturers that closed under Abbott’s previous orders will be allowed to reopen Monday as well, at 25% capacity and using staggered staffing to limit interaction. State parks are also beginning to honor reservations.

 

Abbott has stated multiple times this month his team was working with bar owners and health experts to identify safe ways to allow for bars to reopen. Some bars owners participated in soft reopenings over the weekend to prepare for the green light from the state.

 

Gov. Abbott faces pressure on two fronts. Some Texans want him to open more businesses faster. Last week, tattoo artists and bar owners held rallies outside the Capitol calling on Abbott to let their businesses reopen. On the same day, a different group demonstrated outside the Governor’s Mansion, laying body bags near the front gate.  Their message was that opening too soon could lead to more COVID-19 deaths in Texas.

 

“The governor is in a tough situation,” explained James Dickey, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. “There are some people who won’t be happy until there’s an unlimited opening of everything with no limit, and there are other people who will be unhappy if anything every opens up.”

 

poll by Nexstar Media and Emerson College showed many Texans are not comfortable returning to normal life as businesses reopen. Even with distancing precautions in place, 68% of Texans polled said they would not feel comfortable going to gyms yet. Nearly 60% said they would not feel comfortable going to restaurants.

 

“It obviously impacts the economy greatly,” said Emerson College Polling Director Spencer Kimball. “If you have 60% of people saying they’re no longer are comfortable going to a restaurant, just think about all of those jobs that aren’t going to be there when this epidemic is over.”

 

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Abbott’s approval rating is 54%, according to a Nexstar/Emerson College poll.

 

“We are getting through this,” Abbott said during the Monday conference. “But now more than ever, we need to work together as one Texas. Be a good neighbor. Be a Texan.”

Timeline:

 

On April 27, Abbott announced Phase One of his plan, opening restaurants and retailers, which took effect May 1, with a potential to move to Phase Two “as early as May 18,” if Texans can “contain the spread of COVID-19 during that time period.

 

“We need to see two weeks of data to confirm, no flare up of COVID-19,” Abbott said April 27, encouraging Texans to keep up social distancing.

 

On May 5, four days into his Phase One plan, Abbott announced expanded rules for hair salons, nail salons, and updated guidance for school graduations.

 

Abbott said that day the moist important factors for him include means and averages, rather than individual day-to-day spikes. “We’re going to be testing a lot more people,” he explained, “a lot more people are going to test positive, there could very well be the need for more people needing hospitalization.”

 

“What matters is not how many people are hospitalized,” Abbott said. “What matters is what our hospitalization capacity is.”

 

As of May 17, Texas had a total of 1,512 people hospitalized. Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services indicated 17,390 hospital beds were available, with 1,832 ICU beds and 5,797 ventilators.

 

The 7-day average positive test rate is 4.66%. According to an analysis of the state data, 57.70% of all cases have recovered, 39.51% are active and 2.80% have died.

 

 

By: Wes Rapaport, John Thomas, Russell Falcon, Christopher Adams, Maggie Glynn, Yoojin Cho, and Alex Caprariello

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved