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Texas, Florida and South Dakota governors refuse lockdowns as coronavirus resurges

"The Governor will not lockdown and hurt families who can't afford to shelter in place for six weeks," a spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Image: COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit Within A Houston Hospital Cares For Patients As Cases Continue To Rise
Medical staff work to clear the airway of a patient suffering from Covid-19 in the intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 16, 2020 in Houston.Go Nakamura / Getty Images

The governors of Texas, Florida and South Dakota said they have no plans to shutdown their states as a new wave of coronavirus cases sweep the country.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in an interview that there won't be "any more lockdowns" in the state and he wants to focus on "working to heal those who have Covid" so they can leave the hospitals and get back to their normal routines, the Texas Tribune reported.

A spokesperson for the governor told NBC News on Wednesday that Abbott's plan to slow the spread of the virus will rely on "the data-driven hospitalization metrics used by doctors and medical experts."

As of Wednesday, Texas had over 1.1 million cases and 20,274 deaths related to coronavirus, according to data compiled by NBC News, and the state had seen a 47 percent increase in cases over the past 14 days.

"As some communities experience a rise in hospitalizations, the State of Texas is working closely with local officials to quickly provide the resources needed to address these spikes and keep Texans safe," spokesperson Renae Ez said in a statement, adding that a part of the plan is to begin distributing the antibody therapy drug made by Eli Lilly.

The governor will also continue with a plan he announced in September that states he would scale back businesses reopening if the number of Covid-19 patients in a region exceeds 15 percent of its hospital capacity for seven consecutive days.

Regions that reach that threshold would have to reduce the occupancy of businesses to 50 percent capacity, among other things.

"Local officials have full authority to enforce these existing protocols to help mitigate this virus, including occupancy limits and mask requirements," Ez said in the statement.

"The protocols proved effective in slowing the spread over the summer and containing Covid-19, and they can continue to work but only if they are enforced.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he didn't want to order a shutdown because he didn't want to "hurt families who can't afford to shelter in place for six weeks," according to a statement his office sent to local station WPEC.

"Especially not for a virus that has a 99.8 percent survival rate."

A spokesperson for DeSantis did not return multiple requests for comment.

The governor has been heavily criticized for his response to the virus. In March, the governor took heat after he refused to issue a statewide shutdown of beaches as college students flocked to Florida for spring break.

He eventually issued a statewide stay-at-home order in April. The state moved into Phase 3 of its re-opening plan in September, which allowed businesses to open and removed limitations on gatherings. The state does not have a mask mandate.

More than 17,800 people in Florida have been killed by the virus. The state reported 10,105 positive cases on Sunday which brought the total to 885,201, according to NBC Miami. That was the highest number of daily cases in the state since July.

DeSantis' office said in their statement that the more than 10,000 cases are most likely "due to a large submission file and skewed the numbers for that day," according to WPEC.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been very critical of lockdowns and reiterated her stance in a tweet last week.

"We already know that lockdowns DON'T stop the spread of the virus. However, they destroy small businesses and jobs, and they make it difficult for families to put food on the table," she wrote.

During a press conference on Wednesday, she rejected claims that cases in South Dakota are on the rise because of her refusal to put in place mask mandates and a lockdown.

"That is not true," she said. "There are 41 states that have some kind of a mask mandate. Cases are on the rise in 39 of those 41 states. Now some in the media are saying that South Dakota is the worst in the world right now and that is absolutely false."

As of Wednesday, South Dakota had over 68,671 cases and 671 deaths related to coronavirus, and the state had seen a 28 percent increase in cases over the past 14 days.

New restrictions and mandates are being put in place in cities across the country as cases of Covid-19 spike. Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said Ohio will now be under a curfew in an attempt to halt the surge in his state. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced he was "pulling the emergency brake" on reopening plans and placed most of the state back in the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

On Monday, stay-at-home advisories took effect in Chicago and Cook County in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. Officials told residents to only leave home for essential activities.