New study shows Texas responding to virus


With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting across the United States, every state has chosen a unique route as far as restrictions in face-coverings, travel, large gatherings and other societal circumstances.

Texas, for its part, has begun to act swiftly in the past month as far as these restrictions. Certain measures taken, including Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-28 regarding face coverings, have put the Lone Star State in a better position to contain the virus as compared to other states.

The state’s increase in COVID-19 restrictions can be seen in a new study from WalletHub. The study used 18 relevant metrics of virus-related restrictions to determine which states have made the least, and most, governmental progress on virus containment. In the study, Texas ranks 46th out of the United States (which includes the District of Columbia) in fewest virus restrictions, meaning it is 6th in the greatest amount of restrictions. This is a major positive, according to WalletHub.

“States should strictly enforce their COVID-19 restrictions because otherwise there is no incentive for people to follow the rules,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Fines are a good deterrent to make sure Americans follow COVID-19 restrictions, and enforcement will also minimize the need for citizens to play the police.”

For Texans, the first violation of Abbott’s face-covering order is a written or verbal warning, followed by a fine up to $250 for every subsequent violation.

Jail time is not a punishment for violating the order. The state has made a drastic jump in the rankings since WalletHub’s study debuted on May 5. On that date, Texas ranked 8th in fewest restrictions, representing the state’s more lax attitude at the time. Since May, the virus has hit Texas hard, prompting the ramp-up of restrictions.

Texas’ low rank in least amount of virus restrictions comes from strong finishes in several study metrics.

The state ranks 45th in large gatherings restrictions (7th-most), with outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people having been banned for the most part.

Issuing guidance on elective surgeries, such as the prohibiting of them in major Texas metropolitan areas, also gives Texas strong marks. Gonzalez’s advice for all states is something that Texas has been committed to during the virus spread.

“Most importantly, state governments need to closely monitor the number of coronavirus cases, prepare for a second wave, and adjust further reopening plans if needed to avoid too much of a strain on hospitals,” she said.

On June 25, Abbott paused all further reopening phases in the state.

Another factor in dealing with the virus has been the increase in protests across America, with residents taking to the streets to speak out against racial injustice. These protests have mixed effects as the country navigates the post-COVID world.

“The recent protests throughout the U.S. could both help and hurt states’ reopening efforts,” said Gonzalez. “On the positive side, the protests may prove to people that it’s safer to be outside than they thought, leading to more economic activity sooner. On the negative side, the protests could lead to spikes in COVID-19 cases that might force reopening delays due to public health concerns.” Other metrics used to determine the study’s rankings include:

- Statewide school restarts

- Reopening of restaurants and bars

- State guidance on customer health checks at restaurants

- Reopening of non-essential businesses

- Legislation on business immunity from COVID-19 claims

- Working from home requirements and recommendations

- Workplace temperature screening

- Child care programs reopening

- Strictness of “shelter in place” orders

- Enforcement or penalties for COVID-19 legislation non-compliance

- Suspension or postponement of legislative sessions

- State court closure or suspension, and

- Guidance for assisted living facilities related to COVID-19. As of July 21, California

As of July 21, California ranks with the most COVID-19 restrictions, followed by New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas. South Dakota has the least amount of restrictions according to the study, followed by Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa and Idaho.

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