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Gov. Greg Abbott bans elective surgeries in four South Texas counties to preserve hospital capacity

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Abbott is banning elective procedures to preserve space for coronavirus patients. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday morning that he is putting a stop to elective surgeries and other procedures in four South Texas counties that are seeing a rapid surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The latest ban on elective procedures applies to Cameron, Hidalgo, Nueces and Webb counties. Last week, Abbott banned those procedures in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties.

"I want to remind all Texans that each of us have a responsibility to help slow the spread of this virus, and I urge everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing, and stay home if possible," Abbott wrote in a press release.

Statewide, more than 5,900 patients in Texas were hospitalized with coronavirus on Monday, a record-breaking number and a figure that has been going up nearly every day since June 1.

Medical procedures required for “a serious medical condition, or to preserve life,” can still take place, at the decision of a patient’s physician.

Abbott previously issued a statewide elective surgery ban. That one lasted about a month before Abbott eased it in late April, allowing hospitals to resume nonessential procedures under certain conditions, as long as 15% of beds were reserved for coronavirus patients.

This developing story will be updated.