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Gov. Greg Abbott says Texans must be vigilant to slow the spread of coronavirus

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday expressed optimism about the declining number of hospitalizations related to the coronavirus, but stressed that Texans still need to be vigilant about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

“The numbers are moving in the right direction, but it is fair to say that hospital capacity for those with COVID-19 remains too high,” he said.

Abbott visited Victoria and Beaumont on Tuesday to meet with local officials and provide an update on the state’s coronavirus response. Data shows coronavirus hospitalizations are declining in Texas, with some 7,216 coronavirus patients reported in Texas hospitals on Tuesday. That’s down from a late July peak of about 11,000 — but remains well above Texas’ levels in the spring, when daily hospitalizations plateaued below 2,000.

Abbott said the main strategy for reducing the number of hospitalizations is following strategies that slow the spread of infection, including mask wearing and social distancing.

"The way to reduce hospitalizations is to reduce the number of people who test positive," he said.

And he warned that the virus remains dangerous.

"COVID-19 still spreads across this region and across the country just as fast as it did in July," he said.

But even as hospitalizations reportedly decline, other stats have raised concern about the spread of the virus and the state's response.

Texas reported 20,603 tests on Monday— a significant decline from a when the average daily number of tests was 62,516 in late July. The percentage of tests yielding positive results has climbed to 22% on average in the past seven days. Two weeks earlier, the average positivity rate was around 14%. Earlier in the pandemic, Abbott flagged any positivity rate above 10% as a red flag.

Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Gov. Greg Abbott by omitting an ellipsis. The accurate quote from Abbott is as follows: “The most important thing that I could convey today is that even though the numbers of COVID-19 have improved ... COVID-19 still spreads across this region and across the country just as fast as it did in July.”