Gov. Abbott temporarily halts state's additional reopening phases

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday morning he is temporarily pausing additional reopening phases as the state's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge.

Abbott said businesses that were allowed to open under Texas' previous reopening phases can continue to operate under designated occupancy levels. They must maintain the minimum standard health protocols provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

In a statement, the governor said:

"As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families," said Governor Abbott. "The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards 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. I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business."

The decision comes less than an hour after Abbott said hospitals in Harris, Travis, Bexar and Dallas counties must stop elective surgeries in order to save bed capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Under his executive order to halt the elective surgeries, hospitals must postpone all procedures that are not medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or save a patient's life.

The order will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Friday, June 26.

READ MORE: Gov. Greg Abbott orders hospitals to stop elective surgeries

In Houston alone, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city added nearly 1,000 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 16,253 cases.

Also on Wednesday, Abbott said Texas would again pass 5,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 4,000 hospital patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Texas passed both thresholds for the first time Tuesday.

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