Abilene-Taylor County in the red zone, community leaders ask public to help slow surge of COVID-19 cases

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene and Taylor County are now in the “severe” category under Hendrick’s COVID-19 Community Safety Plan.

This means cases have had an average increase of around 75% for three consecutive days.

City and county leaders are now putting the power to slow the number of cases in the hands of the public.

“This is in your best interest to start following the rules,” said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls. “Stop fooling around with this stuff. I mean, it kills people.”

Judge Bolls says wearing a mask and social distancing are some of the few things that will keep businesses open.

“At 15%, they close,” said Judge Bolls.

Bolls is talking about COVID-19 hospitalization. In our trauma zone, which includes most of the Big Country, they’re hovering around 9%. In Abilene, that percentage is closer to 14.

“It’s my call up until then,” said Judge Bolls.

The staggering numbers prompted community stakeholders, including Bolls, to work on a set of recommendations to help get case numbers down.

“The hospital says, look we can’t wait to hit 15% before you start doing some of these things, we’ve got to do them now,” said Bolls.

On the top of that list is reinforcing Gov. Abbott’s mask mandate in businesses and outdoor facilities.

“Start enforcing this, if you see someone come without a mask on, tell them, ‘You can’t be in there without a mask on,'” said Bolls.

Some other recommendations under the “severe” category include:

  • School enforce quarantine of positive students and those exposed
  • Cancel city gatherings
  • Larger convention center events are discouraged

Judge Bolls says he and the rest of the stakeholders are asking the public to abide by these regulations before he has to make some tough decisions.

“If you’ll do that we don’t have to put an order out and start forcing you to do things as a government,” said Judge Bolls.

Judge Bolls says he’s not opposed to shutting things down before we get to that 15% if new cases continue to surge as they have been.

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