June 27, 2020
Beaches Could Be Next to Go in Retreat
on Reopening as New Wave Cooks Coast
By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor
Governor Greg Abbott would have to close the Texas beaches, water parks and thrill ride venues if he's serious about trying to get the coronavirus under control with the second chance that he has now after letting it get away the first time around.
But Abbott would have to pull the plug on the Texas Republican Convention that he's done nothing to stop up to now as an event that has the potential to be a major launching pad for the worst COVID-19 wave of all in the fall. The state GOP gathering is set to begin on July 16 in the nation's hottest virus spot of Houston.
The Republican governor caught everyone off guard on Friday when he shut down bars across Texas without warning in a move that could have prompted partly by a state undercover operation that discovered widespread abuse of social distancing requirements in the watering hole industry.
Abbott could send the secret state agents to the coast next as an obvious source of the massive current surge that's turned Texas into the nation's largest new epicenter as a state that appeared to have fared remarkably well in round one. A coastal deployment now would be tantamount to a magic time machine ride back to the good old days where social proximity rules among young people have been converging more closely than ever before to make up for lost time after having the entire spring stolen from them.
The beaches have never been more popular than they are now as the most fun place in Texas for celebration, congregation and the collective unleashing of pent-up pandemic energy that's a novel phenomenon in the new world.
The cumulative Texas coronavirus count surpassed 143,000 on Saturday when the state reported 5,747 new cases during the previous 24 hours. The virus destroyed single-day records in Dallas County while soaring to a new high point in Fort Bend County on the outer edge of the Houston area.
Johnson, Parker and Rockwall counties - a trio of suburban locations in in the Dallas-Fort Worth area's outer extremities - recorded more new infections today than they had in any single day since the disease surfaced in Texas at the start of March.
Laredo sizzled on Saturday when Webb County reported 111 new cases after setting a record on Friday with nearly half that amount.
But the Texas coast is getting hit the hardest this weekend with records going down today in Galveston, Brazoria and Jefferson counties and the inland destination of Victoria County. Cameron County in the Rio Grande Valley posted its second highest daily mark in two-week streak that ended on Friday.
The virus has been on record-crushing runs this week in Hidalgo and Cameron counties where South Padre Island has been bustling with youthful revelry as one of the top three Texas destinations on the Gulf of Mexico along with the Corpus Christi and Galveston areas.
Galveston posted a pandemic daily record with 252 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. Galveston, Nueces, Cameron and Hidalgo counties have reported 2,402 new infections combined in the past three days with beachgoers as the chief suspects in the rapid transmission in the communities where they've come to party.
With young adults accounting for a majority of the positive tests and hospital admissions in the second Texas outbreak, the state might find it necessary to put an end to the fun again with the reactivation of a closure order that Abbott would like to avoid.
Abbott had overlooked several days of major spiking early this month when he gave amusement parks the green light to get the roller coasters running again by late June. The timing for the new wave couldn't be worse for massive operations like Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The behemoth theme parks in Arlington and San Antonio both reopened on Saturday after the three-week heads up from the governor.