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Gov. Greg Abbott: Statewide shelter in place 'not appropriate' at this time

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he has no immediate plans to order a statewide shelter in place.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott's decision not to issue a shelter in place has garnered some criticism from people saying he's not doing enough to protect Texans from the spread of COVID-19. But during a news conference Sunday, Gov. Abbott made two points that give us some insight into his decision making. 

"Understand this, and that is I am governor of 254 counties in the state of Texas. More than 200 of those counties in the State of Texas still have zero cases of people testing positive for COVID-19," Abbott said. 

Credit: Source: Texas Department of State Health Services

The highlighted portions on the above map show the 46 counties with confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the state. But the state's list of counties with cases does not include the 65 cases the Texas Department of State Health Services still has to assign. And we know there are other counties, just in Central Texas, that have confirmed cases that aren't on the state's list.

But of 46 counties that are on the state's list, 19 of them are the most populous in the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, together they have a population of more than 20 million people, while the state's entire population is more than 28 million.

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So why not protect the masses with a stay at home order? The governor said he supports local orders. 

"They already have the full authority at the local level to implement those stricter standards," Abbott said. "And if they choose to do so, I would applaud them for doing so."

Abbott said he hasn't ruled out expanding orders for the state, but said he first wants to see how effective the orders in place now are.

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