Gov. Greg Abbott says he’ll announce more business openings soon — does his ‘Cheers!’ GIF mean bars are next?

Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a tweet on Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said due to “contained” positivity rates of COVID-19, he’ll announce more business openings soon.

Abbott writes: “Texans have continued to keep COVID under control. The hospitalizations, number of new positive cases, and positivity rate remain contained. Today was one of the lowest for fatalities in a long time. I will be announcing more openings soon. Cheers!”

But does the data back up Abbott’s claims?

HOSPITALIZATIONS: Texas’ COVID-19 numbers show hospitalizations have plateaued, staying near 3,200 a day for nearly three weeks. This is double the count from late May and early June, which hovered around 1,600, before Texas hit a huge surge of cases mid-summer.

NEW CASES: While the number of new positive cases per day has declined significantly since July, Monday’s seven-day moving average of 3,261 cases per day is the highest in two weeks. Back on July 20, the state’s seven-day moving average hit a peak of 9,563..

POSITIVE RATE: Monday’s positive rate of 6.23% is the lowest since May 31. Positive rate calculations have changed since May, with DSHS calculating that rate based on when the tests are taken, not when results come in.

DEATHS: Only eight new deaths were reported Monday, the lowest since June 15. However, due to fewer labs being open on Sundays, Mondays have previously shown low numbers. The seven-day average number of deaths as of Monday is 71 deaths per day. On June 15, that number was 21 deaths per day.

The reopening timeline so far

Over the summer, Abbott withheld expanding openings for bars, saying they are “nationally recognized” as COVID-19 spreading locations.

The Governor originally closed bars back in March. He later allowed bars to re-open in May at limited capacity before the state saw a surge in June—prompting him to close all bars at noon that same day.

Since the June announcement, businesses that identify only as bars (they do not serve food and/or the majority of their revenue does not come from food) have remained closed. Despite more flexible rules from the TABC on to-go alcohol sales, the ongoing closure has been a point of frustration for Texas bar owners.

As of Monday, Oct. 5, Texas has surpassed 16,000 COVID-19-related deaths—an average of about 72 per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been a total of 765,894 total cases in Texas as of Monday.

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