Texas was one of the first states to reopen. Now it's seeing record numbers of the coronavirus and its Republican governor is urging people to stay home.

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texas coronavirus
People riding past murals painted on boards covering bar windows on 6th Street on May 20 in Austin, Texas.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

  • Gov. Greg Abbott told Texas residents on Tuesday to stay home if possible as the number of new coronavirus cases in the state reached record highs.

  • On Tuesday evening, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 5,489 new cases, the most ever in the state.

  • "People need to recognize this is a very swift-spreading virus, for which there is no vaccine," Abbott told the local station KRIS-TV.

  • Texas was one of the first states to roll out a timeline for lifting its coronavirus restrictions. It also enforced one of the shortest lockdown orders in the country.

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Gov. Greg Abbott told Texas residents on Tuesday to stay home if possible as the number of new cases in the state reached record highs.

Cases in Texas have been steadily rising over the past few weeks. On Tuesday evening, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 5,489 new cases, the most ever in the state.

"Texas will report an all-time high in the number of cases of people testing positive of more than 5,000," Abbott told the local TV station KBTX. "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."

He told the station that despite the state's relaxed social-distancing measures, residents were advised to stay at home.

"We want to make sure everyone reinforces the best safety practices of wearing a mask, hand sanitation, maintaining a safe distance, but importantly, because the spread is so rapid right now, there's never a reason for you to have to leave your home unless you need to go out," he said. "The safest place for you is at your home."

In another interview with the local station KRIS-TV on Tuesday, Abbott reiterated the severity of the virus' spread and urged Texans to take precautions more seriously.

"People need to recognize this is a very swift-spreading virus, for which there is no vaccine," he told the station. He acknowledged the state saw an increase in coronavirus cases after Memorial Day and in early June.

Current state guidelines, updated June 3, call on people to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10 and to wear face coverings in public.

Texas was one of the first states to roll out a timeline for lifting its coronavirus restrictions. It also enforced one of the shortest lockdown orders in the US.

Abbott issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 31; it lapsed April 30 and was not renewed. Retail stores, restaurants, movies, and shopping centers were allowed to reopen with limited capacity on May 1, and larger entertainment venues were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity on June 12.

And while the Republican governor initially spoke out against implementing a statewide shelter-in-place order, he later acknowledged to state lawmakers privately that reopening businesses in the state would lead to an increase in coronavirus infections.

"The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission," Abbott said during the call, according to The Daily Beast. "The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero."

As of Tuesday, Texas has recorded 114,881 cases since the outbreak began, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the fifth-most cases of any US state. And even as cases rise in Texas, the federal government is cutting funding and support to seven local testing sites in the state, according to a report from Talking Points Memo.

But despite the troubling rise in cases, Abbott said during a news conference on Monday that reimposing a statewide lockdown would be the last resort.

"COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled," Abbott said. "Closing down Texas again will always be the last option."

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