WATCH: Gov. Abbott sees ‘glimmers of hope’ with COVID-19, but too early to say when Texas can reopen

Abbott said he will make an announcement about schools later this week

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Monday that he wants to reopen businesses and schools in the state but that it’s too early to tell whether the coronavirus spread has slowed enough to start the process.

At a press conference at the State Capitol, Abbott said loosening social distancing guidelines and other restrictions needs to be done in a “safe and strategic” way that doesn’t invite another outbreak.

“Our primary goal in the state of Texas right now is to ensure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Contain it. Make sure the state is a safe place for all Texans," he said, adding that he would make an announcement about schools in the state later this week.

Can Texas handle a COVID-19 spike? Here’s what the data says.

Abbott’s current directive to Texans to stay at home unless performing essential work or tasks, like grocery shopping or health care, runs through the end of April. Schools are closed throughout the state until May 4. But last week Abbott hinted at an executive order that could potentially reopen some parts of Texas.

On Monday, he said he’s seen “glimmers of hope with a whole bunch of red flags attached.”

The basis for this hope, he said, is that the “number of Texans who tested positive for coronavirus [on Sunday] was the lowest it’s been in an entire week and the second-lowest since late March.” But a red flag marring that apparent good bit of news is that the number of positive test results has consistently been lowest on Sundays. “I don’t know if it’s because testing occurs less on a Sunday or the reports come in less,” Abbott said.

Either way, Abbott said more time and data is needed to know when social distancing guidelines and other restrictions can be eased. The Governor said last month that he expects COVID-19 cases to peak toward the end of April.

Abbott provided new statewide figures on Monday, including more than 13,800 cases of COVID-19 among Texans and 286 people in the state who have died after contracting the virus. Of those, about 1,200 are currently hospitalized and another 2,200 have recovered.

Abbott said more than 133,000 of the state’s 29 million people have been tested.

Map: Track COVID-19 cases in Texas, county-by-county updates

Before the press conference, Abbott held a brief town hall to announce a $50 million small business initiative to help those struggling with the impact of the coronavirus. Read more on that here.

On Sunday, Abbott extended his declaration of disaster for another 30 days. The declaration lays the groundwork for Abbott to continue to waive regulations and laws that could hinder the state’s virus response.

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.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.