SAN ANTONIO – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appeared on KSAT 12 News at Noon on Tuesday to answer questions from KSAT 12 News anchors Ursula Pari and David Sears about the COVID-19 response in the state and his recent decision to expand reopening businesses in Texas.
The live question-and-answer session took place one day after Abbott announced a large range of reopenings in Texas, from bars to childcare.
In Phase 2 of reopening Texas, restaurants will be allowed to expand dine-in seating capacity to 50%, bars can operate at 25% capacity starting on May 22, and child care centers can open immediately.
You can watch the interview in the video player above.
Abbott was asked the following questions and here’s how he responded:
Question: How can you check to make sure that businesses and organizations are going to follow health guidelines or will they be on the honor system?
Answer: Abbott said there are multiple ways to ensure the guidelines are being followed. State officials ask leaders of businesses and organizations to find out what their strategies are. The governor said he believes that if a summer camp doesn’t have a good plan to protect children, parents will not allow their kids to attend. The same principle applies to restaurants, Abbott said. If the eatery doesn’t adhere to safe guidelines, they will lose customers. He added that licensing agencies and local authorities keep tabs on businesses to ensure compliance.
Question: Yesterday, you talked about research, data and science driving the reopening of businesses in Phase 2. Are you prepared to shut down communities or activities if the data begins to reveal it was not a good idea to reopen if new hot spots show up?
Answer: Abbott said there are multiple tools to determine hot spots. Surge response teams are tasked with responding to hot spots, performing massive testing and ensuring that infected people are separated from healthy individuals. He said the typical hot spots are jails, nursing homes and meat packing plants, and once you eliminate the hot spots, the amount of positive cases “look fairly steady,” he said.
Question: What is the timeline for convention centers to reopen?
Answer: Abbott said his team is reviewing strategies for reopening convention centers and large entertainment centers, like theme parks. Abbott said his team is in talks with business leaders on safe strategies including looking at how Disney and conventions in other areas of the country are reopening. “We can do so with conventions just like we did with malls, by following safe strategies.” he said. Abbott added whatever the plan is, it needs to be a safe one to prevent the spread of the virus.
Question: How can hotels be opened safely?
Answer: Abbott said hotels are allowed to be open during the pandemic because they are deemed essential services. But he admits bookings are very slow. Abbott said some hotel operators want to open but want to choose the right time because they don’t want to lose any more money.
Question: What about the availability of drugs to treat the virus?
Answer: Abbott said Texas has received two allotments of the drug remdezivir. He said other drugs will be coming to the state in the coming months.
Question: Is the state being pressed to add services or hotlines to help people with mental health issues?
Answer: Abbott said the State Department of Health Services is providing mental health services for residents. He urged Texans to call 211 or go online to see how the agency can help them.
Here are the latest headlines from Abbott’s announcement on Monday:
- Bars, bowling alleys, summer sports camps, child care services allowed to reopen in Texas with restrictions
- Governor Greg Abbott says bars can open in Texas on May 22 under these rules
- Day cares open now in Texas; Schools, youth camps can reopen by end of May
- Abbott announces youth camps, certain pro sports can return to Texas starting May 31
As of Monday evening, nearly 49,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Texas, according to Texas Health and Human Services, with more than 28,300 recoveries and more than 1,300 deaths.
In San Antonio, city officials announced a total of 2,213 cases on Monday evening. The death toll stayed at 63.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT.