SAN ANTONIO – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke to KSAT anchors Ursula Pari and David Sears during Thursday’s KSAT News at Noon about the COVID-19 response in the state.
The governor addressed questions over a live satellite interview. You can watch the interview in the video above.
RELATED: Mayor Ron Nirenberg answers viewer questions on KSAT12 with anchor Steve Spriester
Abbott said as of Thursday morning, more than 51,000 Texans had been tested for COVID-19 with 4,650 positive cases and about 70 deaths.
He said while the rate for positive cases is still less than 10% of those tested, the dramatic increase of positive cases and deaths from a week ago is concerning.
One week ago, there were 1,400 positive cases and 18 deaths from COVID-19. Today the positive cases have more than tripled over last week, and there are now 70 deaths.
“That is exactly why I issued my new executive order earlier this week to make sure that everybody understands that people need to stay at home unless they’re involved in some essential service to keep the machinery of government open or in case you need to do something like go to the grocery store,” Abbott said. “If you’re not engaged in essential activities or essential functions for government, you need to be staying at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Texas.”
Abbott said he believes the peak of the coronavirus cases in Texas may be toward the end of April. While the U.S. is expected to see cases peak in about two weeks, the crest in Texas could be a week or 10 days after that, Abbott said. That’s because the new coronavirus started spreading later in Texas than in some other areas of the country, he said.
The peak would be prolonged if people don’t follow orders and stay home this month, Abbott added.
As for the unemployment challenges in the state, Abbott acknowledged the frustration that many people have expressed over not being able to contact someone at the Texas Workforce Commission.
“There has never been this many people applying for unemployment in Texas,” Abbott said.
Texans filing for unemployment increase 1,600% over two weeks ago
Abbott said the Workforce Commission has hired 700 new staff and moved staff from other agencies to help the response.
He reminded Texans that unemployment benefits would be more than they normally would because new money appropriated by Congress.
The governor’s new executive order went into effect on Thursday and extends social-distancing guidelines through April 30.
Abbott said the guidelines make stay-at-home policies uniform across the state and said there would be jail time for people who refused to comply.
Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT: