10-Year-Old Boy Drowns, More Than 1,000 Rescued After Crowds Flock to Reopened Texas Beaches

Crowds of people headed to beaches in Texas over the weekend after the lockdown was lifted, leading to authorities having to rescue large numbers of people who got into trouble in the water.

A 10-year-old boy from Little Rock, Arkansas, who was celebrating his birthday, drowned at Crystal Beach in Galveston County. Galveston beach patrol estimates they rescued more than 1,000 people who got caught in rip currents as the beaches reopened for the first time.

In a statement, the City of Galveston said: "The City of Galveston's top priority is the health of our residents. We strongly urge our residents to continue taking health precautions and following the CDC, state and health district guidelines regarding COVID-19, including social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10."

"I can just look at it and see. [On Saturday], it was as busy. We had to stop and go traffic on the Seawall for six or seven hours straight," head of Beach Patrol Peter Davis told ABC13.

Galveston beach Texas
Beachgoers enjoy a day of sunshine at Galveston Beach on May 2, 2020 in Galveston, Texas MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

Texas beaches were ordered to be opened on May 1, as part of the first phase of Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen the state. During the lockdown, beaches were only available from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. every day for pedestrians, joggers and surfers.

Abbott, who issued a stay-at-home order on March 30, said he would let that order expire on April 30 as the state begins its first real phase of reopening. "That executive order has done its job," Abbott said. "It's time to set a new course; A course that responsibly reopens business in Texas."

The first businesses allowed to reopen on May 1 include retail stores, shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and libraries. The businesses will operate at 25 percent of capacity to ensure proper social distancing.

The order to reopen also includes a greater capacity for COVID-19 testing statewide, and the ability for hospitals to handle any spike in new coronavirus patients as per federal guidelines released by the White House.

The second phase could begin May 18, provided the novel coronavirus does not spread, to open more businesses, and the businesses that reopened on May 1 to expand capacity.

"We need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare-up of COVID-19," Abbott said.

There are 30,522 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Texas and 847 people have died so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

10-Year-Old Boy Drowns, More Than 1,000 Rescued After Crowds Flock to Reopened Texas Beaches | U.S.