As Taylor County tracks 2,249 active cases of COVID-19, Abilene and Taylor County officials are urging locals to do their part to slow the spread of the virus. Local ICU beds are full, and the hospitals are now treating 83 patients for the coronavirus. Abilene may be seeing hospital capacity stretched to the limit by COVID-19, but some other Texas cities have been completely overrun. That’s led some cities to try enacting curfews, stay at home orders, and business closures, only to be challenged in court by Governor Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton. Last week an appeals court overturned El Paso’s restrictions.
Abilene’s leaders have watched what’s going on around the state, and City Manager Robert Hanna says their messages urging locals to wear masks, wash their hands, and maintain a six-foot separation from others in public, is all they can do. “The governor’s removed all municipal and county authority to shut things down. So when people call us an clamor ‘Hey, why aren’t you doing more?’ We are literally doing all we can do that the governor’s allowed us to do. And if they want to see Abilene shut down, you need to call the governor’s office, because he’s the only one that can do it.” Hanna says the only thing that would trigger further restrictions would be if Abilene surpassed 130 hospitalizations for 7 days. Hanna says he prays the hospitals never reach that level of demand.