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TexPIRG statement on Gov. Abbott’s decision to reopen bars

For Immediate Release

AUSTIN, Texas  -- Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he will allow bars to operate at 50 percent capacity starting October 14 although leading health professionals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that bars are high-risk venues for spreading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Texas continues to have virus levels nearly 15 times higher than the rate of new daily cases that health professionals would consider safe for reopening. And according to the Covid Exit Strategy Map, the state also is trending poorly in key metrics for measuring the spread of the virus.

In response, TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“Many Texans, myself included, are looking forward to a Shiner Bock at a local bar whenever the pandemic ebbs. But we’re not close to that yet. The governor has not shown the leadership or commitment to our health for that to happen. This announcement is not good for Texans.

“By any key metric, COVID-19 is not contained in our state, as the governor would want you to believe. Six hundred Texans died last week and cases continue to rage. Economists and public health experts agree that the only way forward is through doing what it takes to squash this virus now. That means not reopening high-risk venues including bars too quickly, getting case levels down and then setting up effective testing and tracing programs. 

“According to the Brown School of Public Health, Texas needs to do 10 times as much testing as it is now to effectively suppress the virus. Instead of reopening prematurely, Governor Abbott should unleash the resources necessary to ramp up testing so that we can have any hope of gathering safely with our families over the holiday season -- at a house, restaurant or bar.”

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