Gov. Abbott will allow stay-at-home order to expire on April 30, outlines phased plan for reopening
AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) - Governor Greg Abbott has announced the stay-at-home order issued in response to COVID-19 will be allowed to expire April 30.
In a Monday afternoon news conference, Governor Abbott began by discussing recoveries from COVID-19 in Texas, saying Texas has the third most recoveries of any state in the nation, and he expects the number of recovered cases to overtake the number of active cases soon.
The Governor also said more than 3,000 Texas National Guard are deploying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at nine PPE distribution sites, as well as meals at food banks across the state.
Governor Abbott spoke about responding to the issue of unemployment in the state, saying the Texas Workforce Commission has tripled staff size to meet the demand of record-breaking unemployment. The Governor says 1.6 million unemployment claims have been processed and $2 billion has been payed out in unemployment aid.
The Governor outlined a plan to re-open Texas businesses in phases, saying not all businesses can open at once.
Abbott says phase one will begin on May 1, allowing retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls to open, with 25% occupancy limits. Businesses in counties with fewer than five active cases can open at 50% occupancy.
Hospitals must reserve 15% capacity for COVID-19 patients.
Outdoor sports involving four or less players like golf and tennis can continue, with safe social distancing procedures observed.
Gov. Abbott says the state will work to open state museums and libraries by May 1.
According to Governor Abbott, businesses violating the occupancy limits will be subject to losing their license to operate.
Barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms will remain closed; Gov. Abbott says he hopes to allow them to open in mid-May.
Abbott says two weeks of data are needed from phase one. The earliest day for phase two would be May 18.
Phase two will allow more businesses to open, while opening up some restrictions such as occupancy limits for phase one businesses. Governor Abbott says the State is communicating with medical experts about when to implement new phases and will communicate with medical experts if increased hospitalizations or deaths indicate phases need to be moved back.
Testing and tracing for COVID-19 outbreaks have been implemented and will be escalated by phase in a plan outlined by Governor Abbott.
Abbott says the first phase of the plan has already completed with the mobilization of more than 1,100 state and local contact tracers and the development of an application for contact tracing COVID-19. Abbott says the plan will use wide testing and contact tracing to identify COVID-19 patients and isolate them to reduce the spread.
The Texas Medical Association called Governor Abbott’s plan “prudent and careful” in a release following the conference Monday.
"Our hospitals were prepared for a large surge of COVID-19 patients. Thanks to most Texans abiding by social distancing requirements, we were able to avoid that surge. However, we must expand significantly our testing capacity, our ability to monitor new cases of COVID-19, and our ability to trace their contacts to prevent a rapid resurgence of this epidemic in Texas,” said Texas Medical Association President David C. Fleeger, MD.
“I’m pleased Governor Abbott has begun reopening our state. It’s time we responsibly get businesses back online, people back to work, and communities back to some semblance of normal,” said District 19 Congressman Jodey Arrington, “Given the Lone Star State’s resources, resolve and risk-taking ethos, I fully expect Texas to lead in the nation’s recovery.”
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