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Texas Reopens as Virus Numbers Hit 3-Day High

One expert warns that 'we should expect' a spike in coronavirus cases
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2020 3:55 PM CDT
Updated May 3, 2020 4:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Texas is reopening its economy as coronavirus case numbers remain high, and the media isn't letting it go. NBC Dallas Fort-Worth reports that Texas marked its first three-day stretch of over 1,000 new cases Saturday as stores, movie theaters, and restaurants reopened to limited capacity. In fact 1,300 new cases popped up, the state's second-highest toll for one day, with 31 fatalities, marking the first Lone Star stretch of four days with 30-plus deaths—although that was down from a 50-death high on Friday. Gov. Greg Abbott, who let his "stay at home" order expire, says case numbers will likely rise due to increased testing. For more:

  • 'Scared': "Everybody is scared," says Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, per NBC News. "Obviously the economy is hurting and people are looking to see what happens next, but no one knows what's going to happen with the governor's actions."

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  • A little calmer: "In this entire time period, we've never reported in the city of Houston more than five deaths, so this equals the maximum that we have ever reported of people that passed away on any given day," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner after 5 deaths were reported Saturday, per KTRK. "One of my concerns is, people are starting to behave as if the virus is gone. The virus is not gone."
  • What is 'limited capacity'? The Texas Tribune explains that most retailers and malls must hold capacity at 25%, but rural counties with barely any coronavirus cases (5 or under) can serve at 50%.
  • At the movies: The New York Times visits a San Antonio theater showing the Vin Diesel movie Bloodshot at 25% capacity. Some movie-goers wore masks, while others took them off in the theater to eat popcorn. "If you feel like you have fear, then that’s perfectly fine, and you don’t go out," says one. "But other people need to get their lives back."
  • Meatpacking: A federal strike force was going to Amarillo on Sunday to help squelch a coronavirus spike that's been linked to meatpacking plants, per the Tribune. The infection rate in Potter County is a relatively high 5.66 per 1,000, but that's low compared to neighboring Moore County, which has a huge JBS Beef plant and a 16.65-per-1,000 rate.
  • 'New spike': "I hope we don't see a dangerous new spike in new cases, but we should expect it," pandemic expert Gerald Parker tells the Houston Chronicle. He argues that "continuing to shelter in place is not sustainable" in terms of "public health, mental health, and other medical conditions," but "we should watch for" a spike. "We should be ready. It should not be a surprise."
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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