The state of play: Abbott said the move "will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase", but allowed businesses - including restaurants and bars - already open under the state's guidelines to remain in operation.
Twenty-nine states are now experiencing new surges, with more than 37,667 new cases recorded Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - a level approaching a new record - with 692 new deaths reported. Hotez called Texas' numbers "absolutely horrifying" and said they were an indication that the state opened up before it was safe to do so.
Going forward, Abbott can by proclamation add or subtract the names of any other counties in response to surges in other parts of the state.
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Most of the crowd stayed in the Black Lives Matter Plaza after being pushed out of Lafayette Square, according to WUS9. The Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
With new cases and the number of COVID-19 patients rising rapidly, "We are looking at greater restrictions and some could be localized", Abbott said Wednesday without detailing what those would be or where. "As we have seen an increase in the number of people testing positive and hospitalizations, we've see various different reasons why".
Texas was among the most aggressive states in reopening in early June after months of lockdown, its leadership confident it had escaped the worst of the pandemic that has claimed nearly 122,000 lives in the USA, by far the highest number in the world.
The outdoor crowd maximum doesn't apply to religious services, youth camps, sporting events and amusement parks, according to Abbott's new executive order.
However, the state will continue to enforce health safety protocols.
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The labour hire staff are paid directly by labour hire providers and were paid for their rostered shifts on Wednesday, he said. Nearly 5000 thermometers are also being shipped to holiday spots by the state government before the school holidays begin.
"At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars", he said in a written statement. He later rescinded the order during an aggressive reopening of the state in May that lifted lockdown orders ahead of most of the U.S.
Also reporting record rises in cases this week were Alabama, Arizona, California, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming.
That statewide elective surgery ban lasted about a month before Abbott eased it, allowing hospitals to resume non-essential procedures under certain conditions, as long as 15% of beds were reserved for coronavirus patients.
The mayor of Austin, the state capital, faulted Abbott for not requiring Texans to wear face coverings.
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Shares were suspended for 60 minutes by the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before the announcement. Germany has no extradition treaty with the Philippines.
He said Austin residents have only a week or two to make behavioral changes to avert a hospital capacity crisis.