KXAN Austin

Central Texans impacted by COVID-19 want tighter statewide restrictions

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As COVID-19 surges across the state of Texas, some Central Texans who have been directly impacted by the virus are calling for tighter restrictions statewide.

Dave Lovett, who has been a successful musician for more than a decade was diagnosed with COVID-19 in June.

“After playing a couple nights in clubs, I woke up feeling like a truck hit me, and it went downhill from there,” Lovett said.

His symptoms did not require hospitalization. He calls himself one of the lucky ones. Lovett says the hardest part of his battle was giving it to his wife, who is now identified as a long-hauler.

“What has happened to my wife is the next worse thing from dying honestly. It has taken her life in so many ways,” Lovett said.

His own experience along with the recent surge in cases makes him want to see tighter restrictions statewide.

“I really believe we should be a lot stricter for a short amount of time, and I think it will really make a big difference,” Lovett explained.

This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott did a recent radio interview with Dallas radio host Mark Davis.

In the interview, Abbott said, “We are not going to have any more lockdowns in the state of Texas. Our focal point is going to be working to heal those who have COVID, get them out of hospitals quickly, make sure they get back to their normal lives.”

A spokesperson for Abbott’s office says he continues to rely on hospitalizations data and will provide hard-hit communities with necessary resources needed to address spikes in cases. This includes an Eli Lilly drug used to treat COVID-19 that was distributed this week.

Additionally, Abbott’s office says his executive order includes precautions to pull back openings to 50% occupancy when a region’s hospital capacity is made up of 15% or more COVID-19 patients for seven consecutive days.

“Local officials have full authority to enforce these existing protocols to help mitigate this virus, including occupancy limits and mask requirements. The protocols proved effective in slowing the spread over the summer and containing COVID-19, and they can continue to work but only if they are enforced.”

Renae Eze, spokesperson for Abbott’s office

Places like Amarillo, Lubbock and San Angelo are well beyond the 15% capacity, pushing healthcare workers to their limits, especially in El Paso.

“Every hospital (in El Paso) is opening up tents to create more beds, and the hospitals are about 44% occupied by COVID patients,” said Diana L. Fite, MD, president of Texas Medical Association.

Currently, there are 204 hospitalizations in Austin metro area, which is the highest since Aug. 20.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler says that number can go down, if people in the community act now by continuing social distancing, masking and avoiding large gatherings.

“If our numbers start looking like what’s happening in El Paso, I’m going to expect the governor to act in a clearer way,” said Adler. “We have time, we don’t have to make the decision now about curfews or shutting down if our community will show the discipline necessary.”