Pence encourages Texans to wear a mask as coronavirus cases surge

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Sunday and encouraged people in areas experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases to wear masks. 

“We encourage everyone to wear a mask in the affected areas,” he said. “Where you can’t maintain social distancing, wearing a mask is just a good idea, especially young people.”

According to NBC News, Pence wore a mask earlier in the day but did not wear one when speaking at the news conference. 

Pence visited Texas as the state experiences a surge in its number of coronavirus cases. 

Texas has seen a steady rise in its number of cases over the past few weeks. As of Sunday, the state has recorded over 148,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Texas now has the fourth-most novel coronavirus cases of any US state, according to data from Hohns Hopkins University.  

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state’s COVID-19 outbreak has taken a “swift and very dangerous turn.”

“Over just the past few weeks, the daily number of cases have gone from an average of about 2,000 to more than 5,000,” Abbott said.

Last week, Abbott told people to stay home if possible as the number of new coronavirus cases in the state reached record highs. On Thursday, Texas recorded 5,996 new cases, the most ever in the state since the pandemic began.

On Friday, Abbott issued an executive order to close venues “that receive more than 51% of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages,” as well as limiting restaurant capacity to “50% of total listed indoor occupancy,” beginning on June 29. Businesses can remain open for delivery and takeout.

Current state guidelines, updated June 3, call on people to avoid gathering in groups larger than 10 and to wear face coverings in public.

Texas was one of the first states to roll out a timeline for lifting its coronavirus restrictions. It also enforced one of the shortest lockdown orders in the US.

Abbott issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 31; it lapsed April 30 and was not renewed. Retail stores, restaurants, movies, and shopping centers were allowed to reopen with limited capacity on May 1, and larger entertainment venues were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity on June 12.

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