The message to San Antonio-area residents was stark and devoid of the lofty phrases and throat-clearing to which government is often prone when making such announcements.
“STAY HOME,” began the text message that appeared on the cellphones of residents of Bexar County, Texas, on Saturday.
“The COVID-19 virus is spreading rapidly across Bexar County. Local hospitals are approaching capacity. Protect yourself and your family. Stay home except for essential activities, wear a face covering and avoid gathering with people outside your household. STAY SAFE,” the message concluded.
The message was sent by the City of San Antonio and Bexar County Offices of Emergency Management, according to Spectrum Local News.
“This action is reserved for only for emergencies, and we have clearly reached emergency status,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “We need every person in San Antonio and Bexar County to take this crisis seriously and behave accordingly to slow the exponential growth of the virus.”
You might have just noticed a COVID-19 alert on your phone, advising you to stay home to the greatest extent possible.
We must remain vigilant. Our hospital capacity is filling up.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice physical distancing.
Thank you, San Antonio. pic.twitter.com/9g8ac5szK0
— Mayor Ron | Wear a mask! ? (@Ron_Nirenberg) June 28, 2020
Texas has had 150,152 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. To date, 2,402 residents have died from the disease — a tiny fraction of the state’s population, which is about 29 million.
But it is not the overall totals that have officials worried; it is the spike that has taken place in recent days.
The day the alert went out, Bexar County reported a record of 795 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total to 9,652, according to KTVT-TV.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday issued an executive order to address the increase in cases.
His order shuttered all bars in Texas. Restaurants, which had been allowed to have in-person dining at 75 percent of capacity, were pushed back down to 50 percent.
Abbott also banned river rafting trips and revised the rules on outdoor gatherings so that any group of over 100 people is banned unless local officials approve it.
The governor said he was responding to a “swift and very dangerous turn” in controlling the virus, according to the KXAS-TV.
“Texas will report an all-time high in the number of cases of people testing positive of more than 5,000,” Abbott said. “The hospitalization rate is at an all-time high. Coronavirus is spreading in Brazos County and across the entire state of Texas, which is exactly why action is being taken.”
“As I said from the start, if the positivity rate rose above 10 percent, the State of Texas would take further action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement.
“At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part,” he said.
“Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again,” the governor said.
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