This article was originally posted by Adela Uchida on Friday, April 17th, 2020 for ABC 7 News.
AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott announced all Texas schools will be closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year Friday — just one part of his announcement to reopen the Texas economy.
“Now in opening Texas, we must be guided by data and by doctors,” he said. Governor Abbott made it clear — not all businesses will be allowed to open on May first. “I’m issuing executive orders today that will begin the process of opening Texas.” Abbott cited the more than 1 million Texans who have filed for unemployment — and the families who have been hit in the bank account as reason to begin to reopen some businesses.
His first executive order forms a strike force, that includes Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen advised by business leaders including Kendra Scott and Michael Dell and medical experts. They are also tasked with building a framework to test and trace new cases of COVID-19. “That will enable Texas to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and returning to other activities.”
In his other executive orders, Abbott said state parks will open on Monday, April 20. On April 22, restrictions on surgeries and other medical procedures will be lifted. And next Friday, April 24, retail stores will open with curbside pickup like restaurants have done. “Opening Texas must occur in stages,” said Abbott.
Infectious disease experts say the number of COVID-19 cases in Texas is expected to peak in early May — and opening too early could bring on a big spike in coronavirus. That leaves Abbott and governors in other states balancing between public health and the economy — but today Abbott acknowledged that everything depends on getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control. “Some businesses fully open without better distancing standards would be more likely to set us back rather than to propel us forward,” the governor said.
Abbott says there will be more announcements about more businesses opening on April 27 and in May, if the numbers of COVID infections and hospitalizations remain low.