A new viral video shows a bar in Houston, Texas, filled with people amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Individual businesses and public spaces in Texas were allowed to re-open on May 1, and the state has seen several big spikes in COVID-19 cases and deaths since then, according to a report by The Houston Chronicle. Still, some found it hard to believe that people packed into a bar during the global crisis.
The now-viral video of a Houston bar appeared on Twitter on Wednesday, to the surprise of many. It showed people shoulder to shoulder at the bar, at tables and milling around on a dance floor, most without masks or gloves on. In one area, patrons even smoked hookas, presumably sharing the mouthpiece with disposable covers. The video appeared to show two security guards standing by the door, but they did nothing to enforce social distancing within the bar. Even the person who posted the video seemed shocked by what they were seeing.
For people asking me if Houston is really open. pic.twitter.com/0qGQ6pzXRK— P. 🏁 (@_parisimone) May 14, 2020
Commenters were appalled by the sight, with many wondering how the patrons were justifying the night out to themselves. They reasoned that these people must have heard the warnings about the coronavirus pandemic, and some even joked about the likelihood that it was spread within the bar.
According to the Chronicle, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed restaurants, malls, movie theaters and retail stores to re-open at 25 percent capacity starting on May 1. Hair salons and barbershops were then allowed to re-open on May 8. Abbott has reportedly been hoping to let some facilities to go up to 50 percent capacity soon.
However, Texas still has a rising number of new coronavirus cases and a surge in deaths. On Saturday, the state saw its most significant jump in new cases in a single day so far — 1,801 at once. It reportedly stems from a particular outbreak near Amarillo, where Abbott is sending his "surge response teams" to investigate.
"That is exactly why I established Surge Response Teams," Abbot said. "By immediately deploying resources and supplies to these high-risk areas, we will identify the positive cases, isolate the individuals and ensure any outbreak is quickly contained, which is the strategy being deployed in Amarillo."
Abbott also pointed out Texas is well below other large states in the number of cases and deaths, with a total of just 147 dead. He said that his state still has plenty of hospital beds and ventilators to accommodate more cases. Still, critics say that the employees at bars like the one in this viral video should not be forced to risk hospitalization and even death just to pay their bills.