COVID-19 cases rise again

Governor opens more of the state

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The number of active COVID-19 cases in Austin County rose again last week after making significant declines the previous two weeks.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that the county has 45 active cases, which is up from 18 the week before. Prior to that, the county had 144 cases and 216 the week before that. There have been no more deaths reported since the number rose to nine last week.

In his weekly report on Monday, County Judge Tim Lapham quoted the DSHS website: “Fatality data comes from death certificates and may include both confirmed and probable cases.”

According to the DSHS, Austin County has had a total of 491 virus cases.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that most of Texas would be able to loosen some coronavirus restrictions, including letting many businesses increase their capacity to 75%, as soon as Monday.

Retail stores, restaurants and office buildings, which have been open at 50% capacity, will be permitted to expand to 75% capacity. Hospitals will be allowed to offer elective procedures again and nursing homes can reopen for visitations under certain standards.

At the same time, Abbott said the state was not yet ready to reopen bars, saying they are “nationally recognized as COVID-spreading locations.” He stressed, though, that the state is looking for ways to let bars reopen safely.

“The governor relaxed more of the regulations last week but still requires bars to remain closed,” Lapham said. “I don’t understand how a bar is safer if you sell cheeseburgers and chicken wings to eat while you drink your beer. Those decisions come from higher up than me and (they) must know something I don’t.”

(Patrick Svitek of The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.)

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