Anderson County and the rest of the state have entered Gov. Greg Abbott's third phase of reopening Texas businesses, allowing them, with few exceptions, to operate at 50 percent capacity. Bars, previously capped at 25 percent capacity, may go to 50 percent, as long as customers remain seated.
Even as the state re-opens, however, putting more people inside buildings, Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston said residents should continue to maintain social distancing protocols from the Centers for Disease Control. The guidelines call for six feet of separation between people.
“Until we get a vaccine, this thing isn't going away,” Johnston told the Herald-Press Monday. “People shouldn't get complacent.”
Johnston said he doesn't necessarily oppose the state's re-opening, but wonders how some local restaurants and bars will serve more people and still practice social distancing.
On Monday in Anderson County, the number of COVID-19 cases had risen to 90. Of those 90 cases, 63 had recovered, Johnston said, with no confirmed COVID-19-related deaths.
The county reported 85 cases on Friday, but confirmed two more from local nursing homes on Saturday, and three more over the weekend. Johnston said he expects more confirmed cases from local nursing homes, which underwent mass testing in recent weeks.
While the number of cases continues to rise in Texas, Abbott said the new cases are "largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants." Those spots made up more than 45 percent of the new cases, his office stated.
"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe," Abbott said in a statement.
Not everyone in the Legislature agrees.
"The data are clear — unfortunately, COVID-19 cases are moving in the wrong direction right now and we need to tap the brakes, not step on the gas,” said state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus.
Texas has now confirmed 68,271 coronavirus cases, including 1,734 deaths, the Department of State Health Services reported. More than 90% of the state's 250 counties have reported cases.
Texas has conducted more than 1.1 million tests, but the state still isn't testing the 30,000 per day that Abbott had set for reopening the state.