Governor says Texas Panhandle hot spot has ‘turned a corner’
AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the Texas Panhandle has “turned a corner” after an outbreak of coronavirus cases erupted around meatpacking plants, keeping the region from rebooting daily life as quickly as the rest of the state.
Abbott made the statement the same day new cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, returned to four-digit levels after several days in three digits.
Abbott, who throughout the pandemic has limited his travel outside Austin, wore a face covering to a briefing with reporters in Amarillo, where the number of cases has sharply dropped in the two weeks since the surrounding counties reported more than 700 cases in a single day.
He described the turnaround in Amarillo as a model for how Texas can extinguish hot spots as the state reopens faster than most of the country. Abbott earlier this month had sent a “surge response team” to the Panhandle and kept some businesses in the region, including bars, from reopening at the same speed as most places in Texas.
“You see extremely positive results that lead to the ability to say that Amarillo has turned a corner,” Abbott said.
The overall numbers in Texas had been improving before Wednesday’s rebound. The 14-day trend of new cases and infection rates had been declining, according to state health figures.
On Wednesday, though, 1,361 new cases were reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services, bringing the total to 57,921. Even then, the actual number of cases is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
COVID-19 deaths reported to the state also returned to double-digit levels after several days in single digits with 26 reported Wednesday, bringing the overall official Texas coronavirus death toll to 1,562.
For most people, the 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. However, most patients recover.