Jul 2, 2020
Governor Greg Abbott Texas Mask Mandate Speech Transcript July 2
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas made a virtual announcement on July 2 that the state is requiring all residents to wear masks in most counties. Read his full speech transcript here with the details.
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Governor Greg Abbott: (00:01)
Texans are resilient. We are tough and we are determined. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to. And that’s exactly what we did in April when we slowed the spread of COVID-19. Is what we did in May when we opened back up, as we also lowered the positivity rate to just 4.5% and we kept hospitalizations flat. But in the past few weeks, there has been a swift and a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases. So we need to refocus on slowing the spread, but this time we want to do it without closing down Texas again. As I’ve said before, if the positivity rate or the hospitalization rate increase too much, we have ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 without mandating stay at home policies. Both of those danger zones have now been triggered. First, I want to show a graph showing the daily number of people testing positive.
Governor Greg Abbott: (01:20)
As you can tell in the last half of May, Texas averaged about 1500 positive cases a day. This past week, that number quadrupled to more than 6,000 positive cases a day. Next is a graph showing the rise in the positivity rate, the positivity rate surged from 4.5% in late May to more than 14% today. Last is a graph showing the rise in hospitalizations. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 averaged less than 1700 a day in the last part of May. This past week that number tripled to more than 5,700 hospitalizations a day. Importantly, these spikes are not limited to just the big cities. More than 91 counties have hit record high numbers in just the past three days all together. These numbers reveal a very stark reality. COVID-19 is not going away, in fact, it’s getting worse. Now more than ever action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID-19.
Governor Greg Abbott: (02:57)
For example, hospitals in various regions of the state, they’re being strained. Already reports from some regions show some ICU units nearing capacity. In short, we must do more to slow the spread without locking Texas back down. Now, there are several things that we can do that are proven to slow the spread. First, if you can just stay at home. Also, if you can try to work from home. Now, this is not a stay at home order, this just recognizes reality. If you don’t go out, you are less likely to encounter someone who has COVID-19. If you do go out, stay six feet away from others that you are not traveling with. But of course, one of the best ways to keep businesses open while also slowing the spread is for everyone to wear a face covering like this when they go out. Medical studies have shown that wearing a face covering slows the spread of COVID-19 and it protects you and your family.
Governor Greg Abbott: (04:23)
That is why today I am issuing a face covering requirement for all counties with more than 20 COVID cases. This safe standard requires Texans to wear a mask in public spaces with certain common sense exceptions. This requirement is not intended to be punitive instead, we just need everyone to do their part to help to slow the spread. That’s why the first violation of the standard is just a warning. Subsequent violations are subject to a penalty not to exceed $250. But let me be clear, no one can ever be put in jail for violating this safe practice. Local law enforcement has the authority to enforce this safety standard, just like they do when enforcing seatbelt standards. Now I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business and it will help Texans earn the paycheck they need.
Governor Greg Abbott: (05:43)
I also know that not taking action to slow the spread will cause COVID to spread even worse, risking people’s lives and ultimately closing more businesses. Now it’s that our early success it may have led people to think that the coast was clear, that it will be okay to relax a little bit. Just a month ago there were few COVID-19 cases and hospital space was abundant. Just a month ago many thought that young adults had no reason to fear COVID-19, but today COVID is spreading like never before and the virus it doesn’t know and it doesn’t even care, what your age, race, sex, political affiliation or geographic location is. It will attack anyone anywhere and even do it without showing any symptoms. We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast there is little margin for error. If we want to avoid lockdowns, if we want to protect those we care about, we need all Texans to join this effort. We have slowed the spread before working together, we will do it again.