Texas has not yet “conquered” the coronavirus and it’s “going to take a little while” to eliminate, although the state has made some strides, Gov. Greg Abbott told CNBC on Friday.
“We are turning the situation in the state of Texas. It’s just going to take a little while, but we’re going to be fine,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Abbott said that one of the challenges Texas faced as it reopened was that people thought the coronavirus had been “completely defeated” and that the state wouldn’t experience the widespread infections first reported in New York earlier this year.
“The first really challenge I had to do was to help my fellow Texans understand is that the coronavirus is real, it is here, it’s not going away, we need to step up and understand the way we need to fully respond to it,” Abbott said.
Texas was one of the first states to largely reopen its economy toward the beginning of May, allowing in-store retail services, dine-in restaurant services, movie theaters, shopping malls, museums and libraries to return with limited capacity. The state’s bars and gyms were later allowed to reopen with capacity limitations.
However, Abbott rolled back some of the reopenings on June 26 after coronavirus cases in Texas climbed to record highs for weeks. The Lone Star governor issued a state-wide mask mandate on July 2 requiring residents across the state to wear a face-covering in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive cases after requests from several Texas mayors.
Abbott said on Friday that the mask mandate “polls overwhelmingly,” noting that 85% of Texans agree that face masks can prevent businesses from shuttering.
Texas hit a record-high average of daily deaths from the coronavirus Thursday, reporting nearly 138 additional deaths based on a seven-day average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Cases, however, showed signs of leveling off, with the state’s seven-day average dropping more than 3% compared with a week ago, according to Hopkins data.
“I feel like we have reached a plateau where we’ve contained the exponential growth of Covid at this particular time, but we have a lot more work to do in the coming weeks,” Abbott said. “We don’t have Covid conquered right now.”