Coronavirus: Texas governor warns pandemic has taken 'very swift and very dangerous turn'

28 June 2020, 21:11 | Updated: 29 June 2020, 06:58

The governor of Texas has warned the coronavirus outbreak in the state has taken a "very swift and very dangerous turn".

Greg Abbott was joined at a news conference by US vice president Mike Pence, who strongly recommended that Texans follow local coronavirus rules on wearing masks.

Mr Pence has been forced to cancel re-election campaign events due to the virus, which is now confirmed to have taken 500,000 lives worldwide.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US has risen to more than 2.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, which puts the global figure at more than 10 million.

The latest data shows more than 125,000 Americans have died so far as a result of the pandemic, the highest number of known deaths of any nation.

Texas had been at the forefront of states letting people get back to work.

But now Governor Abbott has ordered bars across the state to close and required restaurants to limit indoor seating, acknowledging that in hindsight he had opened bars too soon.

It comes after Texas has seen a rise in the number of coronavirus cases rise from around 2,000 a day to more than 5,000.

"COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks," he said.

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In California, a number of bars have been ordered to close as coronavirus cases again surge in America, with more than 3,861 cases reported in the state on Saturday.

Governor Gavin Newsom has told bars to shut in seven counties, including Los Angeles, in a major rollback of efforts to restart the economy.

The rise in cases has been seen most in a handful of southern and western states that reopened earlier and more quickly.

In contrast, New York and its neighbouring northeastern states, which were initially hit hardest, have reported a fall in cases and are pressing ahead with reopening plans.

In Florida, more beaches will be closing again to avoid further spread of the virus in a bid to stop large gatherings.

The state's governor Ron DeSantis said interactions among young people had driven a surge in recent cases.

Kami Kim, director of the division of infectious disease and international medicine at the University of South Florida, said some states' leaders had claimed victory too soon after lockdowns started to be lifted in early May, amid conflicting messages on face coverings.

She said: "It was just complete denial by a huge swathe of the politicians.

"Unfortunately, our community still isn't taking it very seriously. People aren't wearing masks."

Despite the spike in cases, Governor DeSantis has not bowed to pressure to issue statewide mandates on wearing masks, opting to leave the decision to local areas.