Florida and Texas Close Their Bars In Response to Surge in New COVID-19 Cases
Today, both Texas and Florida announced that they would be closing down their states’ bars in response to a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases.
“It is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in a press release. “The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health.”
Bars in Texas were allowed to reopen May 22, provided they operated at 25 percent capacity. This was raised to 50 percent capacity in early June.
Abbott cited the state’s positivity rate—meaning the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive—rising above 10 percent, and increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, as reasons for his reversal. The Texas Tribune reports that the state hit a record 4,736 hospitalizations on Thursday.
Hospitals in Houston and other metros report being at or near capacity. State officials and hospital leaders say Texas has enough intensive care unit (ICU) beds for now, but that new patients will outstrip hospital capacity if trends continue.
In addition to bars, Abbott’s order closes rafting and tubing businesses—which were linked to an outbreak in Hays County—and requires restaurants to reduce their capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent.
It’s a similar story in Florida, where rising case numbers and hospitalizations have seen Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) order that state’s bars closed as well. The governor had previously allowed most bars in the state to open on June 3.
Florida’s positivity rate has oscillated wildly from 5 percent to 18 percent over the past two weeks, but the trend has been unmistakably upwards.
Data collected by Florida International University (FIU) on South Florida hospitals, the Sun Sentinel reports, shows a surge in hospitalizations over the past two weeks, with places like Pal
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