Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Criticizes Young People for Not Taking Coronavirus Seriously As Infections Rise

Gov. Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas on May 18, 2020. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty

Texas Governor Greg Abbott admonished young adults for failing to heed public health advice amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday.

Abbott told multiple local media outlets that increased cases among people in their 20s was one of the reasons for the state's recent surge of new cases, along with increased cases among people in prison or jail and a spike associated with the Memorial Day holiday.

"We are beginning to see for the month of June an increase in the number of people testing positive who are in the age group the 20s, meaning between the age of 20 and 29," Abbott told KRGV. "People of that age group, they're not following these appropriate, best health safety practices."

"They are not wearing face masks, they're not sanitizing their hands, they're not maintaining social distancing," he added. "And as a result, they are contracting COVID-19 at a record pace in the state of Texas."

Texas has seen a significant increase in infections as the state continues to reopen. Over 14,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported over the past week, with 2,504 cases, the largest single-day increase, being recorded on Wednesday.

Hospitalizations have also been steadily rising, with the state reporting a total of 2,326 people in hospitals due to COVID-19 as of Monday.

The governor called the increases a "reason for concern," while insisting they were "not reason for alarm." He cautioned residents who refuse to follow public health guidelines that they are exposing themselves to increased risks of contracting the virus.

"It is still here," Abbott said. "Until we have medicines that can treat it, you are putting your own life on the line if you go out and do not follow these safe practices, you're increasing the probability that you will get COVID-19."

Abbott said residents could be taking the health threat less seriously for a number of reasons, including the summer arriving and recreational activities opening up. He said that the pandemic requires that people do not treat typical summer activities, such as going to the beach, as they might in more normal times.

"We believe that a lot of people have let down their guard," the governor told KLBK. "The summer's here. Things are opening up. They feel like they can go out without having to wear a face mask."

"They are not realizing this very important fact—COVID-19 still exists in Texas, in America and across the globe," he added. "If you do not use these safe strategies, you will test positive for COVID-19."

Texas has the sixth-most total confirmed COVID-19 cases among U.S. states, behind New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois and Massachusetts. As of Monday, the state had reported over 89,000 cases, with nearly 2,000 deaths and more than 59,000 recoveries.

Newsweek reached out to Abbott's office for additional comment. This article will be updated with any response.