By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
Texas governor Greg Abbott said he plans to issue an executive order next week to reopen businesses in Texas, although he didn’t offer specific details.
“We will focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods,” Abbott said at a news conference Friday from the state capitol. “We can and we must do this. We can do both: expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work.”
According to U.S. Department of Labor data released Thursday, more than 761,000 Texans have filed for unemployment in the last month, a record and more than the total number of claims filed in the state for all of 2019.
When asked if individuals would have to be tested for COVID-19 in order to return to work, Abbott said more details would be available next week.
“I will tell you that testing will be a component of it,” Abbott said. “And we will operate very strategically. We want to open up. But we want to open up safely, knowing that if we do it too fast without the appropriate strategies, it will just lead to a potential closure because of another outbreak of COVID-19.”
The total number of Texans that have been tested for the coronavirus, the governor said, is roughly 116,000. Among them, 11,449 have tested positive for the virus and 1,532 were confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations. To date, 221 people have died from the virus in Texas, and 1,336 have recovered from it.
There are currently more than 20,000 hospital beds available in the state with 2,448 intensive care unit beds available and 7,834 ventilators.
Several counties, the governor noted, appear to be reporting peaks of the virus, including Dallas, Bexar and Travis. But with fluctuating numbers, it is still too early to draw any conclusions yet, Abbott added.
Six new counties reported their first cases of the virus on Friday; more than half of the state’s 254 counties have reported at least one case, according to the State Department of Health.
Harris County has reported the most cases, 3,047, followed by Dallas County’s 1,432.