Pence, Abbott meet in Dallas as Texas battles COVID-19 spike

Talk 1370 Newsroom
June 28, 2020 - 3:10 pm

    DALLAS ( -- Saying COVID-19 has "taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas," Gov. Greg Abbott met with Vice President Mike Pence Sunday in Dallas to talk about the state's response to the virus.

    Pence and Abbott spoke after meeting at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, after Pence appeared earlier Sunday at a "Celebrate Freedom" event at Dallas' First Baptist Church.

    Abbott highlighted the turn in the fight against the virus, pointing out that Texas continued to slow the spread of the disease, pushing the positivity rate down to as low as 4.27% at the end of May. Since then, cases and hospitalizations have increased, and the positivity rate has jumped to over 13 percent. "One thing I said from the very beginning is that Texas will follow data in making decisions about how we move forward," Abbott said. "A positivity rate over 10 percent would be an alarm bell for us to reign in the spread of COVID-19."

    On Friday, Abbott ordered bars across the state to close, and ordered restaurants to reduce their dine-in capacity to 50 percent beginning Monday. The new order also closed tubing and rafting outfitters across the state.

    Abbott highlighted the state's death rate, noting that despite an increase in cases, Texas still has the second-lowest fatality rate for COVID-19 in the country. He also emphasized the importance of wearing masks, pointing to his and saying "it will take these, worn by everybody, in the coming days to make sure that we will protect those lives and slow the spread of COVID-19."

    Pence echoed Abbott's comments, saying "wearing a mask is just a good idea."

    Abbott and Pence were joined by Dr. Deborah Birx, as well as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

    Pence and Birx both noted an increase in the number of 20-40 year olds who have been driving the increase in cases - who Birx says is the primary asymptomatic group for COVID-19.

    Birx also noted a change in the virus' infection pattern that is raising concerns at the federal level. "What is happening now is very different from what was happening through April and May, where you were having outbreaks that were quickly contained because they were at a nursing home, or a prison, or a meat-packing plant. Somehow, over the last 15 or 16 days, it's taken on a very different aspect in Texas, and you can see it in Harris County, and Bexar County, and Travis County."

    Pence is traveling and meeting with governors in states that have seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, including Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

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