Gov. Greg Abbott announced expanded openings in most regions of Texas during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Beginning Monday, retail shops, restaurants, offices, manufacturers, museums, libraries and gyms can begin operating at 75% capacity in 19 regions of the state where coronavirus-related hospitalizations are below 15%, Abbott said. Nursing homes, state supported living centers and other long-term care facilities in those areas can reopen for visitation beginning Sept. 24 within certain guidelines, he said.

“There are some Texans who want to fully reopen Texas 100% as if COVID no longer is a threat,” Abbott said. “If we fully reopen Texas without limits, without safe practices, it could lead to an … increase in COVID that would require the possibility of being required to ratchet back down,” Abbott said.

Bars, however, will remain closed.

State officials are now relying on hospitalization rates in Texas’ 22 hospital regions to determine openings rather than statewide trends. If more than 15% of all hospitalized patients have COVID-19 it represents “serious spread” of the virus, Abbott said.

Hospitals in regions that meet the 15% threshold can immediately return to ordinary elective surgical procedures

The Rio Grande Valley and areas around Laredo and Victoria were excepted from the expansion because of hospitalization rates above the threshold which indicates “serious spread” of the coronavirus, Abbott said.

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