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With record number of COVID-19 deaths, public health group calls on Gov. Abbott to reinstate statewide shelter in place

For Immediate Release

AUSTIN - As Texas recorded its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day on Thursday (50, up from 42 deaths the day before), the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) warned Gov. Abbott that it is too soon to lift the shelter in place order, an action which could cost lives. 

TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“We’re all wondering when, if ever, things may start to feel normal. But now is not the time to pull back on the public health measures that are keeping us safe.

“Social distancing and the stay at home order was working, potentially saving thousands of lives. Public health experts agree that, without the strict social distancing currently in place, the health and economic impact of the pandemic would be much, much worse.

“That’s why it is so important that Governor Abbott continue to listen to public health experts like former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci as they consider beginning to reopen their states. According to guidelines written by public health experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, it's not safe to lift the broad stay at home orders until a state experiences a sustained decline in new cases over at two weeks and can:

  • Test everyone who needs it

  • Track and isolate everyone likely exposed to the virus

  • Have the medical supplies and protective equipment to treat all patients safely

“Worse, Governor Abbott’s own advisers admit that we’re not hitting the benchmarks they set for a safe return to normality. As a state, we have only hit one of the four benchmarks, and we’re not even halfway to some of the other goals. Why have advisers if you’re not going to listen to their advice?

“On testing, for example, experts estimate we need to perform at least 35 times as many tests as we are now, and to continue ramping up testing after that.

“The financial hardships from closing down much of the economy are real and we understand the pressure on Governor Abbott to relax the stay at home order. But reopening before it’s safe could lead the pandemic to get worse and the only recourse will be a return to strict stay at home orders, which could cost us more in the long run. 

“Governor Abbott should listen to public health experts, and only implement a plan to reopen once they have the outbreak under control, and have the tools and resources necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus.” 

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