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Gov. Abbott says 'additional action will be required' without better results from closures, mask mandate

Abbott cited doctors, saying it's "very clear that wearing a mask is a way that we can continue to engage with people going to work, doing daily activities."

DALLAS — Gov. Greg Abbott said that if recent closures and face mask requirements don't lead to better results in the state's fight in the coronavirus pandemic "additional action will be required."

In an interview Friday afternoon with WFAA, Abbott said those measures, such as closing bars and other enforcement, should lead to positive results.

"If instead, we see the further explosion in the number of people testing positive, especially the hospitalizations and the deaths, additional action will be required," Abbott said. "... If people will adopt that practice [of wearing a mask], there’s no need to lock down the state once again."

Dallas County health officials reported 1,164 cases Friday, making it the eighth day in a row that the county has surpassed 1,000 cases.

When asked what will enact an additional layer of shut down, Abbott said it's about the data, including seeing ICU units getting increasingly filled and the high average of deaths in recent days.

"Those are very dangerous signs," Abbott said. "I expect the worst numbers to be coming in the coming weeks because it was just in the middle part of June that we saw people the expansion of people testing positive."

Statewide, the deadliest day was Thursday with 105 deaths. On Friday, 95 deaths were reported.

Friday was the first time the state reached over 10,000 hospitalizations for COVID-19.

Abbott's latest executive order, which mandated face masks in counties with more than 20 cases, has been in effect for one week.

"Medical doctors at UT Southwestern have been very clear that wearing a mask is a way that we can continue to engage with people going to work, doing daily activities without having to lock the state down," Abbott said.

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"I think everybody needs to wear a mask because it does slow the spread of the coronavirus and it allows us to continue to make sure we don’t have to lock down our economy," Abbott said.

Regarding schools reopening for in-person lessons, Abbott said that the Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath worked with superintendents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to create the strategies for returning to the classroom.

Abbott emphasized that parents can choose between in-person and virtual learning for their child. He said virtual learning has been bolstered since the spring.

"For schools across the state, if anyone in that school tests positive, that school will close down for five days to clear out the school, to sanitize it, to make it clear and clean for students return," Abbott said.

RELATED: Here's how districts plan to start the school year in North Texas

On Thursday, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said that he was unsure if football would return in the fall. When asked about whether the UIL should consider moving football to the spring, Abbott said the UIL may be waiting until the school year is closer. 

There have been at least six high school athletes in the area who have contracted COVID-19 since summer training began.

"I know the UIL will be basing rules upon what is the best interest for the health and safety of the players, of the students, of the parents," Abbott said.

In an interview with CBS19 on Friday, Abbott said a lack of masks and a spike in COVID-19 could, as a last resort, lead to "the necessity of closing Texas down." 

He also said he's disappointed some local governments refuse to enforce his recently issued Executive Order.

"It's disappointing," Abbott said. "And again, I can understand the mindset being a kid who grew up in Longview myself, that this may not be the top priority. A murderer, or a rapist or a robber is far more serious to concentrate on. However, I know this also, and that is if we do not all join together and unite in this one cause for a short period of time, of adopting a mask, what it will lead to is the necessity of having to close Texas back down."

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