Gov. Greg Abbott announces next wave of business re-openings in Texas. (CBS Austin)
Effective immediately, massage and other personal care services, childcare centers, and businesses in office buildings are cleared to reopen, after Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday the state was ready to move forward with Phase 2 of his plan to reopen the state.
Gov. Greg Abbott opened Monday’s press conference on Phase 2 of reopening Texas by saying that each day is one day closer to getting to a medical discovery to cure COVID-19.
“Today, tomorrow, and every day going forward is one day closer to medical discoveries that will treat and protect people from getting COVID-19. Until that day comes, our focus is to keep you safe, while also restoring your ability to get back to work, to open your businesses, to pay your bills, to put food on your tables. Let’s be clear: COVID-19 still exists in Texas. Our goal is to find ways to coexist with COVID-19 as safe as possible,” Abbott said.
Also allowed to reopen Monday are youth clubs, like the YMCA. For businesses in offices, they’re allowed to have 25 percent capacity or ten employees, whichever is more.
Effective Friday, May 22nd, bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, rodeo and equestrian events, zoos, aquariums, and natural caverns are allowed to open at 25% capacity, and restaurants can expand dine-in services to 50% capacity.
On May 31st, summer camps and professional sports teams can resume operations. Professional sports teams can only restart, however, without in-person spectators.
School districts will also be allowed to have in-person summer school beginning June 1.
Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt says Texans need to continue following health guidelines in order to make this a safe transition.
“This is a test of us, Texans, to make sure we do care about not only ourselves – but each other – and we take those steps that we are confident are going to allow us to open Texas and keep us safe at the same time,” Hellerstedt said.
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen echoed this sentiment, adding it will be important to maintain these practices to make Texans feel comfortable in supporting businesses reopening.
“The reality of it is, Texans have to feel safe and confident for those businesses to flourish in the way the governor and the rest of us desire. It is important we continue to follow these health guidelines. It’s important we continue to take face coverings, social distancing, and hand sanitation into mind,” Bonnen said.
Gyms across Texas were allowed to reopen on Monday with extensive guidelines in place.
Gov. Abbott press conference.
Gov. Abbott cautioned that seniors should stay home if possible as he launches Phase 2 of his reopening plan.
“Those who are 65 and older who may have other types of health conditions, they represent most of the COVID-19 deaths in Texas. As we move into Phase 2, the safest strategy for seniors is to continue to stay at home,” Abbott said.
According to data from DSHS, Monday saw the fewest COVID-19 deaths in a day since April 2, and Sunday saw the fewest new cases since May 4.
Abbott also pointed to charts showing day-by-day rates of positive tests and total hospitalizations. On April 13 – the first date listed on both charts – 13.86 percent of COVID-19 tests taken were positive. On Sunday, that figure was 4.97 percent. On Sunday, there were 1,512 patients in hospitals across the state with COVID-19, the lowest since April 21.
“We’re doing two things at once, and that is protecting life, protecting the healthcare of citizens – as the governor said, sending in teams where we have hotspots – and at the same time, trying to return to a sense of normalcy and revive this economy,” said Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick.
However, DSHS data also shows May 14 – Thursday – saw the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day, and May 16 – Saturday – had the most new cases during this pandemic.
After Abbott’s press conference, the Texas Democratic Party held their own press conference, and were critical of this next phase.
“If we don’t do this safely, we risk a deadly boomerang effect, and then all of our hard work and sacrifices will have been for nothing,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa. “Last week, Dr. Fauci warned that reopening before we have met the White House benchmarks will result in needless suffering and would set us back. We haven’t met those White House benchmarks, and we’re in a downward trajectory.”
Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said Abbott is misrepresenting data.
“A few weeks ago Governor Abbott promised us he would be guided by doctors and data, and today it is clear he is simply cherry-picking the data. He glosses over the fact that the number of new cases reported has grown in the last two weeks and glosses over the fact that the number of deaths reported has tragically increased in the last two weeks. It’s not acceptable that the Abbott administration is apparently lumping in antibody tests with active infections, cooking the books when it comes to health data that inform critical decision making is responsible,” Turner said.
Abbott pointed to spikes in El Paso and meatpacking plants in the Amarillo area for these new cases, as well as surge response teams testing all residents and staff members of nursing homes across the state.
“When hotspots like this arise, we send in surge response teams to quickly provide COVID-19 tests, and to separate the sick from the healthy, and to ensure the outbreak is contained. We also help to sanitize the area to protect people from getting infected in the future,” Abbott said.
Because of these spikes, businesses allowed to reopen Friday will be delayed until the following Friday in the El Paso and Amarillo areas. Counties that will see this delay are El Paso, Randall, Potter, Moore, and Deaf Smith.
“We’ve seen the containment of spikes take place, and so we know how to do this. As we move forward, we will be prepared to deal with spikes, and expect a similar response in the future,” Abbott said. “These will give those communities and our surge team response the time needed to slow the spread and maintain hospital capacity. It will ensure those communities will safely move into Phase 2.”
Effective immediately, more businesses are cleared to reopen, with even more allowed to do so Friday. (CBS Austin)
New, in effect Sunday, May 31
- Day Youth Camp Operators
- Day Youth Camp Families
- Overnight Youth Camp Operators
- Overnight Youth Camp Families
- Professional Sports Without In-Person Spectators
New, in effect Friday, May 22, 2020
- Bar Patrons
- Bowling Alleys, Bingo Halls, Simulcasting, Skating Rinks
- Bowling, Bingo, Simulcasting, Skating Customers
- Rodeo / Equestrian Events
- Zoos, Aquariums, Natural Caverns
- Zoo, Aquarium, Natural Cavern Visitors
New, now in effect as of Monday, May 18, 2020
- Child Care Centers
- Child Care Families
- Massage and Personal-Care, Beauty Services
- Massage and Personal-Care, Beauty Service Customers
- Youth Clubs
- Youth Club Participants
- Youth Sports Operators
- Youth Sports Families
Effective Monday, May 18, 2020
- Gyms / Exercise Facilities (Updated May 18, 2020)
- Gym / Exercise Facility Patrons (Updated May 18, 2020)
- Manufacturers (Updated May 18, 2020)
- Office-Based Employers (Updated May 18, 2020)
- Office-Based Employees (Updated May 18, 2020)
Originally posted by CBS Austin, Christian Flores on May 18th, 2020.