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Texas mayor orders curfew, as states hard-hit by COVID-19 backtrack on reopening

Gary McWilliams

By Gary McWilliams

HOUSTON, June 27 (Reuters) - A small city on the outskirts of Houston, Texas has instituted a curfew starting Saturday night due to surging cases of the novel coronavirus, the latest move by officials in some southern and western states to backtrack on their reopening plans.

The mayor of Galena Park, a community of 10,000 people east of Houston, said she was heeding a warning from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who on Friday raised the public threat level to its most severe, a sign people should shelter at home.

"It is crucial to continue to practice good hygiene, stay home as much as possible, avoid unnecessary trips, gatherings, and wear a face-covering at all times when you leave your home," Mayor Esmeralda Moya said in a statement late on Friday.

Galena Park's curfew will run from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

The United States recorded more than 45,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the largest single-day increase of the pandemic, according to a Reuters tally, bringing the total number of Americans who have tested positive to at least 2.48 million. COVID-19 is the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The new record for positive COVID-19 tests came as Texas and other states at the center of a new surge in infections took steps back from efforts to ease restrictions on businesses, threatening a hoped-for economic recovery and jobs.

In a reversal of his early moves to relax restrictions, Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday ordered bars across the state to close and required restaurants to limit indoor seating capacity to 50%. Florida, another state that reopened its economy relatively quickly, told bar owners in the state to immediately stop serving alcohol on their premises.

Florida issued its new rules after recording 8,942 new cases on Friday, eclipsing the state's one-day record of 5,511 reached on June 24. (Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Sinead Carew in Maplewood, New Jersey; Editing by Daniel Wallis)