Last month, Texas started cautiously reopening businesses after a shutdown prompted by the spread of COVID-19.
But in the wake of that decision, confirmed cases of coronavirus have spiked in the Lone Star State. And now Gov. Greg Abbott is calling fo a time out on any expansion of the reopening.
Speaking Thursday, the governor said businesses currently open can continue to operate at current reduced capacity. He also ordered hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties — home to the state's largest cities — to postpone elective surgeries to free up room for COVID-19 patients.
But Abbott also stressed the state would not move backward to another general shutdown.
"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business," he said.
Then on Friday the governor ordered bars to shut down for inside sales, reduced restaurant capacity to 50% and also restricted outdoor crowd sizes without specific prior permission.
But will this be enough to stem the tide of new COVID-19 cases?
We'll have to wait and see. Another shutdown would be the final nail in the coffin for many small businesses in the state. And with the $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement ending next month, a lot of workers who would find themselves suddenly out of a job again would have a very hard time making ends meet.
We can only hope Abbott's approach makes a difference. If not, the governor might have to reconsider a more comprehensive shutdown. Texans' health comes first, but the state does not need another major economic hit.