Gov. Abbott says local leaders need to be ‘better’ and ‘smarter’ on enforcement of COVID-19 orders


AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an interview with KPRC-TV in Houston, Gov. Greg Abbott said local leaders around Texas need to be “better” and “smarter” in their enforcement of current executive orders.

Abbott’s response followed up Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s request to the governor for more local authority to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Adler said a last resort option that could be under consideration for Austin would be a 35-day shutdown in the city.

In the KPRC interview, Abbott said he received a letter from several mayors from the largest cities in Texas — including Adler — asking for “additional shutdown measures” and “the authority to completely shut down and lock down” their jurisdictions.

Abbott told KPRC he found the local leaders’ request frustrating because there’s been “no action whatsoever to enforce the executive orders that are in place” to slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Abbott said if the current rules are followed, the state won’t need to be shut down.

On Tuesday, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said there have been more COVID-19 patients in local hospitals than initially reported, due to a data discrepancy.

KXAN Investigator Kevin Clark reported the 7-day moving average for hospitalizations was just above 64 on Monday evening, but the uncounted admissions represented 10 admissions a day. By the end of the day, the 7-day moving average had grown to just under 75.

At Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday, Dr. Mark Escott said that health leaders are still waiting on data to decide whether or not to recommend that 35-day shutdown.

On Tuesday, Austin Public Health reported there are 2,909 currently active cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, with 12,408 total cases.

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