Despite criticism and worry from some that Texas is reopening businesses too soon, Gov. Greg Abbott insists the state is ready.
Abbott’s stay-at-home orders will expire at midnight, and starting Friday, all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls in Texas are allowed to open as long as they maintain only 25% occupancy and follow distancing guidelines.
During a live interview on KSAT-TV on Thursday, Abbott said the best experts in the state have weighed in on the matter.
“We wanted to open the gates a little bit for businesses to begin to start opening up their doors again,” Abbott said and pointed to H-E-B as an example of how it could be done.
“They’ve been able to open for an entire month at limited capacity, without leading to an increase in COVID-19. We’re just doing that across the state,” he said.
The governor said businesses aren’t mandated to open and could stay closed if they don’t feel safe.
Abbott said he’s hoping to open barbershops and hair salons “as quickly as possible,” saying there would be an announcement on that front soon.
Abbott said testing will increase across the state and warned that the number of COVID-19 cases will increase as a result. He said it’s important to look at the percentage rate of those who test positive. Earlier this month the rate of positive cases was at 10% and it’s closer to 6% now, Abbott said. The rate of positive cases must go down or stay flat. If the percentage goes up, that would be concerning, he said.
When asked about how the state is preparing for a possible second wave of the virus, Abbott said the state is stocking up on personal protective equipment (PPE) and making sure the hospitals in Texas have an adequate number of beds and ventilators.
He urged people over the age of 65 to continue to stay home as much as possible, given they are thought to be most at-risk for complications from COVID-19.
The governor answered questions from KSAT anchors Ursula Pari and David Sears over satellite and the interview was broadcast live during KSAT’s noon newscast on Thursday. You can watch the full interview in the player above.
As of Thursday morning, nearly 27,054 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Texas, according to Texas Health and Human Services with 12,054 recoveries and 732 deaths.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT: