Texas reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 deaths, just a day before Governor Abbott’s stay-at-home order expired and the state began reopening.
On Thursday, the Lone Star State death toll reached 50, bringing the total number of coronavirus fatalities in the state to 782. Positive cases increased by 1,033, the biggest one-day jump in three weeks.
These numbers precede phase one of the governor’s reopening plan, taking effect May 1. Under the new guidelines, all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls may reopen, but must limit their capacity to 25% of their listed occupancy. Museums and libraries are permitted to open under the same guidelines, while churches and places of worship remain open.
"As we open Texas, we are each called upon to be Texans; to act responsibly as we reengage in the economy, to continue following all health precautions and sanitizing guidelines, and to care for our vulnerable neighbors. Lives depend on our actions. I know you will respond as Texans," Gov. Greg Abbott stated in his report to open the state.
The Texas Democratic Party has criticized the Republican governor, posting on twitter, "Governor Abbott’s slow reaction to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent rush to reopen the state is shameful."
Though the state has eased restrictions, many cities are keeping their own safeguards in place.
Harris County officials held a news conference Friday to address community guidelines. Lina Hidalgo, Harris County judge, had a message to those who see the day of reopening as a celebration -- "not so fast."
"Reopening does not mean mission accomplished," Hidalgo stated, adding, "just because you can open doesn't mean you should."
Harris County is still urging residents to stay home if possible and wear face coverings when out in public.
Health officials compared the fight against COVID-19 to being in the first quarter of a football game, with a lot of work ahead.