With Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expressing concern Monday over the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases statewide, local officials are urging the public to renew safety efforts.

“Now is not the time to let up on our social-distancing practices,” Wharton County Emergency Management Official Andy Kirkland said Monday. “Wharton County residents are not anywhere near as stringent (about safety protocols) as they were a couple of months ago. People need to pay closer attention to how they act.”

The county’s positive COVID-19 cases are now growing daily.

Monday, the total stood at 115, up nine from the weekend. Of the total, 54 had recovered. On June 1, only 58 people had tested positive.

“I’m hoping people will use common sense. Maybe they are saying, ‘I’m not afraid of catching it.’ But they might have it and be asymptomatic. What if you pass it on to mom or grandma or the kids just because you are being hard-headed?” Kirkland said.

Results from the 415 virus tests conducted last week by the National Guard may not be back for another five to 10 days, he said.

Overall, 2,141 Wharton County residents have now been tested, according to the department of state health services.

Speaking before a statewide television audience Monday, Gov. Abbott said, “COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in the state of Texas, and it must be corralled.”

He urged people to continue washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing. “Texans have shown that we don’t have to choose between jobs and health — we can have both. We can protect lives while also restoring livelihoods. Together, we will keep Texans safe and we will keep our state open for business,” Abbott said.

Texas Medical Association President Dr. Diana L. Fite offered her support to the governor’s statements.

“The governor is right – COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas,” she said, calling for the now standard safety protocols. “If we don’t do that now, we face a return to even stricter measures to protect the health of all Texans.”

Texas hospitals, including El Campo Memorial Hospital, are ready should the number of cases continue to rise. Most now have plans in place to double capacity if the standard ICU beds become filled.

“Hospitals are experienced and skilled at managing capacity related to surges and emergencies,” Texas Hospital Association spokesperson Carrie Williams said. “Texas hospitals are managing the current rate of hospitalizations. But if this trend continues, it is not sustainable.

“Hospitals are doing their part, and we need people to do theirs. Texas hospitals are committed to helping people get healthy and stay healthy. Wearing a mask in public is paramount, and everyone should consistently practice social distancing. The precautions are an act of kindness to yourself and others and critical to business in Texas.”

Texans should visit to learn more about the Minimum Standard Health Protocols and how they can help the Lone Star State slow the spread of COVID-19.

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