DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott visited Dallas on Sunday and addressed a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state since reopening efforts began in May.
“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Abbott.
On Friday, Abbott issued an order that shut down bars for the second time during the pandemic. Restaurants were also ordered to go back to a 50% limited capacity, down from 75%. This was also a day after Texas reported a record-high of 5,996 confirmed cases.
Abbott also banned elective surgeries in the state’s largest counties of Dallas, Harris, Travis and Bexar.
Dallas County reported record-highs for three straight days with 496 on Friday, 561 on Saturday and 570 on Sunday.
With the new orders, Abbott said further reopening efforts would be paused. Pence praised Abbott for his decisions both to reopen the state, then to roll back the reopening plans.
“You flattened the curve here in Texas … but about two weeks ago something changed” and the number of positive confirmed cases have risen from about 2,000 cases a day to more than 5,000 a day. “With the development of these new cases, we’re grateful, Governor, you’ve taken the steps you’ve taken,” Pence said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, visited Dallas with the vice president and also praised Abbott’s decision to close bars on Friday. In late April, she said she spoke to the governor about the reopening plan and told him it was safe.
Pence encouraged the wearing of face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
“Wear a mask, where ever it’s indicated or where ever you’re not able to practice the kind of social distancing that would prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” said Pence, who along with Abbott wore face masks as they entered and left the room, taking them off while speaking to reporters.
Pence was also asked about federal funding being extended for community based testing sites in Texas. The funding, which had been set to end on June 30, was extended for two weeks, but the vice president said it will be extended for as long as the state wants.
Two of those sites are in Dallas at the American Airlines Center and the Ellis Davis Field House and are able to provide hundreds of tests per day.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)