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Texas' state parks closing to public amid COVID-19 outbreak

1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago Tuesday, April 07 2020 Apr 7, 2020 April 07, 2020 11:41 AM April 07, 2020 in News - AP Texas Headlines
Sparkling Clean Professional Exterior Cleaning & Restoration owner Carlos Sanchez uses a sanitizing solution on the Woldert Park playground in Tyler, Texas on Friday, April 3, 2020. Sanchez offered to clean the city's playgrounds for free to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ state parks will close to the public after officials said they were struggling to ensure people are practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus, among other issues.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continued to grow in Texas, with more than 8,200 infections and 154 deaths, state officials said Tuesday.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

STATE PARKS CLOSED

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said Tuesday that the parks would close at the end of the day. Aside from the social distancing issue, they had problems maintaining adequate supplies and keeping parks sufficiently sanitized.

“Given the myriad of challenges and heightened risks of operating the parks at this time, we believe this is the best course of action right now in order to meet the health and safety expectations the state has set out for the citizens of Texas,” said Carter Smith, executive director of the department.

The state park system hosted nearly 740,000 visitors in March, officials said.

MASK MANUFACTURING

Inmates in 10 Texas prison factories are making cotton masks that staff and prisoners can wear to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

About 50,000 masks made at Texas Department of Criminal Justice garment factories have been distributed, according to officials.

The prison factories are making up to 20,000 masks a day. They are also producing plastic face masks.

All personnel working at prison units will have to wear the cotton masks. They will be optional for those in administrative jobs and parole officers in the field.

Inmates in medical restriction areas will also have to wear the masks.

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