Apr 27, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott Texas Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript April 27

Greg Abbott Apr 27
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsGov. Greg Abbott Texas Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript April 27

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas held a press conference on coronavirus today, April 27. He said Phase 1 of reopening Texas begins on Friday, May 1. He said malls, retail stores, restaurants, and movie theaters can reopen May 1 with limited capacity. Bars & gyms will be able to open later. Read all of the details here.

 

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Governor Greg Abbott: (29:04)
I can’t tell, are you all set? You’re good to go? All right, listen, for the past two months, Texans have forged a bond of unity and trust. We’ve worked together for a cause far greater than ourselves. Millions of Texans have sacrificed their livelihood as well as so many of their cherished moments in an unprecedented effort to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow Texans. Its been a collective effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Well because of your efforts, the COVID-19 infection rate has been on the decline over the past 17 days. Because of your efforts, and especially the work of our doctors and nurses and all healthcare providers, our hospitalization rate has held steady and our hospital capacity has remained abundant. At the same time, we must not forget those who have lost their lives because of COVID-19. Our hearts will remain with their families and their loved ones.

Governor Greg Abbott: (30:23)
Every life lost is a tragedy. The fact is the tragedies in Texas have been far fewer than in most States in the United States. And I’m proud to say that Texas has the third most recoveries from COVID-19 in America. In fact, the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 will soon exceed the number of active cases. The lives saved are priceless, but the price has been steep. Many have lost jobs, others have lost businesses. Many are struggling to pay their bills. I want those Texans to know they are not alone in this fight. Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texas. Well since March, we’ve been laying the groundwork to reopen Texas. We’ve ensured additional hospital facilities were available to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients.

Governor Greg Abbott: (31:44)
We stocked up on PPE supplies like masks. We closed schools to slow the coronavirus spread. We even require travelers from other states to self quarantine to reduce importing COVID-19 into Texas and we also reduced large gatherings of people to better slow the spread of the coronavirus. Also, I deployed more than 3000 Texas national guard. They will be operating 25 mobile COVID testing sites across Texas, as well as three fixed testing sites in Houston, Huntsville and Kingsville. They are operating nine PPE distribution sites and they deployed a team that manufacturers more than 500,000 N95 masks each day. They’ve already made more than 6 million of those masks and they’re also helping Texas families. They’ve deployed almost a thousand national guard to prepare and serve meals at food banks across our state.

Governor Greg Abbott: (33:06)
Now we also are working for those who are filing unemployment claims. We have provided the Texas workforce commission with desperately needed help, help to respond to the record breaking unemployment claims that have been filed. With new hires as well as volunteers that have been offered up by both the Texas house and the Texas Senate as well as from state agencies, we have more than tripled the Texas workforce commission staff to more than 2000. More than 1.9 million claims have been filed, but now more than 1.6 million have been processed and over $2 billion has been paid out in unemployment benefits. Now our goal of course is to get those Texans back to work and that is what today is all about. My executive order to stay at home that was issued last month is set to expire on April the 30th. That executive order has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19 and I will let it expire as scheduled.

Governor Greg Abbott: (34:27)
Now, it’s time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas. We will open in a way that uses safe standards. Safe standards for businesses, for their employees as well as for their customers. Standards based upon data and on doctors. I want to thank the Strike Force team led by James Huffines, working with a board of advisors and consulting with doctors to home best practices that allow as many businesses as possible to open in ways that contain the spread of COVID-19. I also want to thank the Lieutenant governor and the speaker as well as all of our legislators and I especially want to thank our team of medical professionals. Professionals who have spent countless hours providing input about the safest ways that businesses can operate. The team includes Dr. Hellerstedt, the commissioner of the department of state health services. It includes Dr. McLellan, a former head of the FDA and the former head of Medicaid and Medicare for the United States. It includes Dr. Hudson, an infectious disease specialist who’s also the director of testing and tracing COVID-19 at the University of Texas Dell medical school. And it includes Dr. Zerwas, the executive vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Texas system. Additionally, I remain in regular contact with Dr. Birx as well as with the CDC. And we will continue to depend upon these experts as we move forward to safely open Texas for business.

Governor Greg Abbott: (36:26)
There’s a reason that all businesses in Texas cannot open all at once. We’ve already seen precautionary tales of what can happen when things reopen. There’ve been reports that China is now having new outbreaks. Singapore is having a second wave that’s bigger than its first way. There’s coronavirus expansion in places like Hong Kong in Japan. The deal is it’s a fact, it’s hard to get rid of this virus because it is so contagious. So we’re not just going to open up and hope for the best, instead we will put measures in place that will help businesses open while also containing the virus and keeping Texans safe.

Governor Greg Abbott: (37:19)
Now I said 10 days ago opening Texas must occur in phases. Obviously not all businesses can open all at once. A more strategic approach is required to ensure that we don’t reopen only to have to close down again. So consistent with CDC guidelines and based on advice from infectious disease specialists. We will open Texas businesses in phases. Phase 1 begins this Friday, May 1st. If we can contain the spread of COVID-19 during that time period, we can move to Phase 2 as early.

Governor Greg Abbott: (38:03)
… and during that time period, we can move to Phase 2 as early as May the 18th. Phase two will open more businesses, and allow the businesses open in Phase 1 to expand their operations. We need to see two weeks of data to confirm no flare up of COVID-19. That is exactly why now, more than ever, Texans must continue safe distancing practices. If we do that, we will be able to expand into Phase 2, opening up our economy even more.

Governor Greg Abbott: (38:37)
As we go into Phase 1, the most important element of Phase 1 is protecting our most vulnerable Texans. People age 65 and over represent just over 20% of the Texans who test positive for COVID- 19, but more than 75% of deaths were people 65 and older. Here’s the point. If we redouble our efforts to protect our most vulnerable senior citizens, we can reduce COVID-19 deaths while also expanding business operations, and increasing the number of Texans reentering the workforce.

Governor Greg Abbott: (39:29)
To achieve these goals, Phase 1 does several things. It emphasizes the importance of vulnerable populations remaining at home, if at all possible. If they need to get out, businesses should make special accommodations to limit the exposure that our vulnerable population has to people who may have COVID-19. We will also redouble our efforts to protect seniors in nursing homes, and other senior living facilities. That includes things like better infectious disease protocols at senior living centers. The bottom line is this. The more we do to protect our vulnerable senior population, the faster we can safely open business in Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott: (40:22)
Next is a list of the businesses that can open safely on May the 1st. Now, once again, the ultimate decision about the types of businesses and the extent to which they could open was driven by the doctors advising us about safe medical practices. Those doctors also prescribed health guidelines; for businesses, for employees, and for customers. Those protocols focus on minimizing the spread of COVID-19. They are contained in this book, that can also be found at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

Governor Greg Abbott: (41:11)
With my new executive order, all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls can reopen May the 1st. Now, to minimize the spread of COVID-19 during Phase 1, on the advice of doctors, I am limiting occupancy to no more than 25%. this is a proven business strategy. This is exactly the type of practice successfully used by HEB and Home Depot. The extent to which this order opens up businesses in Texas supersedes all local orders. If Phase 1 works while containing COVID-19, Phase 2 we’ll expand that occupancy to 50%. Further increases will be allowed in the future, so long as COVID-19 remains contained.

Governor Greg Abbott: (42:11)
Something important to remember: this order allows these businesses to reopen. It does not require them to do so. If a business owner feels unsafe opening at this time, or for other reasons doesn’t want to reopen, there’s no requirement to do so.

Governor Greg Abbott: (42:34)
Additionally, all museums and libraries can open under the same 25% capacity. However, interactive areas of museums with hands-on exhibits must remain closed at this time. Again, this is permission to open, not a requirement. Some libraries and museums are operated privately, or by local governments or universities. It is up to them to decide if they are able to open. The state will work to open its libraries and museums by May 1, or soon thereafter.

Governor Greg Abbott: (43:17)
Now, a lot of business in Texas is done by sole proprietors. They can safely return to work now. The guidance in this book, and online provides safe standards for sole practitioners. Also, churches and places of worship. They were kept open under the existing executive order, but effective by the first they will be able to expand their capacity even more. We do, however, emphasize the importance of safe distancing practices to ensure that church members remain protected from COVID-19. Outdoor sports are also allowed at this time. So long, however, as it involves no more than four participants playing together at any one particular time, and so long as certain distancing practices are followed. Examples of this would be things like golf, and tennis. If COVID-19 can be contained in Phase 1, the goal would be to expand the number of participants in Phase 2 to allow even more sporting activities to be engaged in.

Governor Greg Abbott: (44:36)
Doctors, nurses, and dentists; they need to get back to work. Even more importantly, patients need to get in to see those doctors, nurses, and dentists…. so all licensed healthcare professionals are allowed to return to work with few restrictions. However, all licensed hospitals still must reserve 15% of capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Governor Greg Abbott: (45:07)
All of these things I’ve outlined are in addition to the many parts of our economy that never shut down. Our farmers and ranchers. Grocery stores, and drug stores, and hardware stores. Our home builders and realtors. Manufacturers, construction workers, car dealers, banks and gas stations all have continued to operate. Those, and other essential services will be allowed to continue to operate as they have.

Governor Greg Abbott: (45:36)
Now, one thing we all know, Texas is a big state with a very diverse geography. The fact is, not all counties are alike, and not all counties are effected the same by COVID-19. As our medical team explained, even in low population counties, COVID-19 can still spread very rapidly. Moore County, and Donley County are just two examples of that. To protect rural counties from the spread of COVID-19, and to prevent counties with little or no COVID-19 from being punished, a different standard can apply to counties with five or fewer cases of COVID-19. This would include almost half of the counties in the state of Texas. For those counties, they must comply with all of the safety standards outlined by the doctors. For all business activities that have been limited to a 25% capacity in the counties with five or fewer COVID-19 cases, they can increase their capacity to 50%. That said, as explained in this manual, there are still some conditions that must be met for the county to qualify. Not also, as explained in the manual, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19, it could cause a County to revert back to a more limited capacity.

Governor Greg Abbott: (47:16)
Now, there are some businesses that I want to open, that Texans want open, that the doctors advised were simply not safe enough to open it at this particular time. They include barbershops, and hair salons, bars, and gyms. We are working with our medical team, as well as working with members of the industry sectors to open these businesses as soon as possible. My hope is that they will open on, or no later than, mid-May.

Governor Greg Abbott: (47:50)
Listen, we realize that an important part of reopening is access to childcare. We have already established a robust childcare program for essential workers. The childcare task force is led by Elaine Mendoza. They developed an online site that connects workers with local childcare. The site lists over 6,000 providers in over a thousand zip codes in almost 200 counties across the state. Currently, there are more than 120,000 childcare spots that are available for essential workers. Our goal is to find ways to expand those resources and make them available, in a safe way, to more workers across the entire state. We know how important this issue is to working families, and we’re giving it the speedy attention that it deserves.

Governor Greg Abbott: (48:55)
The same applies to summer camps. We know how important they are for our kids, and how important they are for parents. Our medical team is still working on safe ways that kids will be able to attend summer camps. We know that camps are trying to get ready to make announcements, or plans sometime soon. We will continue working as swiftly as possible on ways to open summer camps, knowing that safety of all kids at camps is the most important consideration. Now, a core part of opening up safely is having an effective testing and tracing process. A process that can quickly identify any flare-ups in COVID-19. We have already developed a robust testing and tracing program to help identify others who may have been infected. Phase one of our tracing program is already completed. We have mobilized a team of more than 1100 state and local contact tracers. It created a contact-tracing IT application. It set up a COVID-19 contact tracing call center. Phase two of that program begins today.

Governor Greg Abbott: (50:16)
During the next two weeks, they will add another 1,000 tracers. They will deploy the contact tracing application statewide, and the deploy statewide the COVID-19 contact tracing call center. Phase three of the program will use the month of May to build a team of 4,000 contact tracers.

Governor Greg Abbott: (50:41)
Here’s what the team does. They test for those who may be affected. They then help isolate those who test positive. Then they try to locate everyone who’s been in contact with the infected person. Then, they work with them to self-isolate for 14 days. What that process does is, it will box in the expansion of COVID-19. This process will be bolstered by an increase in testing. When you aggregate all of the tests run by the state and local governments with the rapidly increasing number of tests run by the private sector, we should easily exceed our goal of 25,000 tests per day. I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Birx about this plan, and I sent her a copy of it. She said the Texas plan was great. I want to join governors from across the country, from both parties, in thanking President Trump for all they have done to help our state. They truly have been available to us on a 24/7 basis.

Governor Greg Abbott: (51:59)
Safely opening Texas for business requires four things. One, a commitment to continue safe distancing practices that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Two, relies on doctors, and data to provide the safest strategies. Three, a focus on protecting the most vulnerable from exposure to COVID-19. Four, a reminder that it is entrepreneurs who drive the Texas economy. They need to be unleashed to restore livelihoods while all of us remain focused on protecting the lives of our fellow Texas. We are Texans. We got this.

Governor Greg Abbott: (52:51)
Next, I turn to James Huffines.

James Huffines: (52:54)
Thank you, Governor. Over the past few months, our state has faced unprecedented challenges. With your leadership, combined with the incredible resilience of Texans across this state, we have made tremendous progress in our fight against COVID-19. We know that we need to get the Texas economy back on track. We also know this can only be done if we contain the spread of COVID, and keep Texans safe.

James Huffines: (53:28)
Governor, by your actions today, it is a major positive step forward to accomplishing this mission. I’d also like to thank our doctors, our medical experts, Dr. Hellerstedt, Dr. McClellan, Dr. Zerwas, and Dr. Hudson. They work have worked very hard, as the Governor said. I would like to thank all members of our strike force team who have spent many hours giving us input. I can unequivocally say that they have worked night and day to provide the information, and the medical expertise that the Governor needs to make the decisions that safely open Texas.

James Huffines: (54:07)
Their input will continue to be looked at as we go forward on a daily basis. This will be a process, and we look forward to working with them on a regular basis. We have known from the very start that we can not just flip a switch, and fully reopened the Texas economy. That would risk setting our state backward, and also putting more lives in jeopardy. Texas cannot take one step forward and then take two steps backward. Instead, the Governor’s plans have outlined a safe, and strategic game plan for all Texans to begin going to work in a safe manner, and beginning some of their daily activities.

James Huffines: (54:53)
This methodical method will pay dividends in the long term. It will also pay dividends for the health, and safety of Texans and for the Texas economy. I want to finally add, and echo a point the Governor just made. Texas is where it is today because of the overwhelming response of Texans across the state to slow the spread of COVID. For us to continue moving forward as a state, we all must do our part as Texans. We all have a serious responsibility to protect our individual health, and a responsibility to protect the health of those around us. If we take this responsibility seriously, and fulfill our commitment, I’m confident if we follow the Governor’s measurements he laid out today, we will get through these challenging times by working together. Thank you.

Governor Greg Abbott: (55:54)
Thank you James. No one knows how hard you’ve been working the past couple of weeks, but I do.

James Huffines: (56:00)
Thank you.

Governor Greg Abbott: (56:00)
I appreciate all you’re doing for Texas.

James Huffines: (56:02)
Thank you.

Governor Greg Abbott: (56:03)
Next, Dr. Hellerstedt.

Dr. Hellerstedt: (56:04)
Thank you governor. This is really a day for us to be very proud of the success that we’ve had so far in Texas, in containing the COVID-19. The things that we were most worried about in terms of overwhelming our healthcare capacity have not happened. We’ve been in a very steady phase for a prolonged period of time right now. It is time to start to reopen Texas.

Dr. Hellerstedt: (56:31)
I really want to reemphasize what the Governor has said. That is, we need to take this seriously, as we have all along. I think that’s one of the most encouraging things about Texas. We’ve taken this very seriously. We’ve been willing to sacrifice. Now, we’re going to be in a different phase. We’re going to be asked to do some different things that allow us to become physically closer, but still remain out of range of COVID-19. The things that we’ve outlined will do that. I’m confident that the people of Texas understand that, and we’ll have…

Dr. Hellerstedt: (57:03)
That the people that are Texas understand that and will have the discipline and the goodwill in order to follow these recommendations. And when we do so, I think we’ll find that we have reopened Texas very safely and will not have excessive rates of resurgence of COVID-19 in Texas.

Governor Greg Abbott: (57:21)
Thank you. Next, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick: (57:26)
Thank you, Governor. This has been an incredible team effort and the most important members of the team are you. Because you have followed the guidelines through the various executive orders and the recommendations, we are in this position quite frankly better than any other state in the country and I really believe any other place in the world. And so now it is incumbent upon you as has been said to continue to social distance, wear a mask. Wear a mask, that’s our suggestion. We’re not mandating it. Wear a mask, very important and it’s important to our businesses as they open up for them to have customers.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick: (58:09)
And so our businesses that today we’re starting on May 1 to be able to open up. Finally, I know you’ve been waiting to do that. Customers are going to come to businesses that they see are safe for them. So this will be a team effort between the customer and between the business. Support your local business as a business, make it safe for your customers. Because the faster we can get to the next step, the more employees you can hire, the more customers will be there, the more business will be created and the closer we get to something that will remind us of the Texas we were before all of this happened. So thank you and God bless you.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick: (58:47)
And again, the most important part of this team moving forward is you, the people of Texas. Thank you.

Governor Greg Abbott: (58:53)
Thank you. Next, Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen: (58:56)
Thank you, Governor Abbott. Today is a big day for Texas because we get to take that step and in taking that step, lieutenant governor and governor has laid out a great strategy, great plan. That step continues to have us be compassionate and considerate of each other. That continues to be patient with each other. As businesses open and we enter those businesses with limited capacities, we’re going to have to show patience for those business owners. We’re going to have to show patience for those that are trying to get into those businesses with us.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen: (59:29)
We’re not there, but we are on the way to getting there. We must continue our social distancing, we must continue our consideration of others and we must remember that we may not find ourselves as vulnerable as others, but we have compassion for the most vulnerable of our society. And in Texas, the most vulnerable are dying at a higher rate than the rest of us and that’s what we must remember as we reopen Texas is that our goal is to support our seniors and keep them healthy and keep them alive.

Speaker Dennis Bonnen: (01:00:02)
And the reality of it is, this is a great roadmap that we’ve taken from the White House and Governor Abbott and the strike force he put it into place for taxes. And if we follow this roadmap, Texas will be back to being Texas. God bless you.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:00:18)
Thank you, Speaker. And now, Chief Nim Kidd.

Chief Nim Kidd: (01:00:21)
Thank you, Governor. As we reopen Texas, our focus will be on three things. One is to continue to support testing and the expansion of those testing locations through our personal protective equipment supplies and refilling supply chain, supporting our local elected officials out there on the front line with the first responders and healthcare workers and, Governor, continuing to look out on the horizon for other threats that face our state and our normal scope of business so we remain intact as we reopen our emergency management teams are ready to go.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:00:50)
Thank you, Chief. We’ll take a few questions.

Chris Gutierrez : (01:00:52)
Governor, Chris Gutierrez here with KPRCTV out of Houston. You know as well as I do, it doesn’t matter what numbers you show, what data you show, there will always be people on the other side who feel this is too early. What would you like to say to them?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:01:06)
We wanted to make sure that we were able to open up as quickly as possible but as safely as possible. And these are decisions that are the result of tremendous input by the best possible medical team and we would not be making a decision to open up Texas without that medical advice. We believe that these are the safe strategies, candidly proven strategies. Here’s an easy example. We want to open up stores to a 25% capacity. That’s the way that stores like HEB and other hardware stores have been operating under for the past month while we have been able to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:01:49)
I believe we can reengage our economy while still containing the coronavirus using these proven strategies.

Speaker 7: (01:01:57)
Governor, you said that we need two weeks of data to confirm no flareups of COVID-19, can you elaborate? I mean specifically are there thresholds that will consider that will make you reconsider the timeline or putting the restrictions back in place?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:02:11)
So Phase 1 opens up on May 1st. We want to usher in Phase 2 as quickly as possible, most likely around the May 18th timetable, if there is no flare up of COVID-19 and let me explain what that means. We will be tracking data. Because there will be an increase in the amount of testing, it’s only logical to see there would be an increase and the number of people that test positive. So just because there may be an increase in the number of people that test positive, that alone is not a decisive criteria. The things that we look at that are more important is what does our hospitalization look like?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:02:58)
Is it remaining flat like it has been or is the hospitalization rate rising? What about deaths? We’ve seen a slow decrease on average in the number of deaths for the past few weeks. Does that trend continue or does it spike up? Are there certain hot spots in certain areas, like what I pointed out in certain regions for example of the panhandle that need to be contained? So there’s no one single factor. We look at all of the data and consider what the data means and then we consult with our medical team about what that data means and through that we make a decision about whether or not we are able to go into Phase 2.

Speaker 8: (01:03:42)
Governor, one of the four key components or key factors that you mentioned was entrepreneurs drive the Texas economy, and there are some people who invest their money and things like barber shops, nail salons, gyms and bars that are not allowed to open yet. I think they would argue that there are ways that they could potentially social distance people who come into those businesses as well. What would you like to tell them when they can’t open their doors but other businesses can?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:04:11)
We want hair salons, barber shops to open up ASAP. Most people wanted them open weeks ago and candidly I think their customers may want them open even more than the business owners want them open. So here’s a factor that was looked at that we just need to work our way through, and that is we do have strategies to avoid having customers come in and aggregate together. The strategy would be to have one customer in per salon worker. But the fact of the matter is they remain very physically close to each other.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:04:48)
I realize that we’ll be wearing masks, but the goal is just to find safe ways in which people can work in close contact with customers while preventing the spread of COVID-19. We think we have some potential solutions. Let us continue to work on it, but we want continued input in best practices and strategies from all of those salons.

Speaker 8: (01:05:09)
But can you understand their frustration?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:05:11)
Absolutely.

Speaker 8: (01:05:12)
Especially when you go into a grocery store and you’re in the produce aisle and you’re just feet away from someone else who’s not wearing a mask?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:05:19)
No doubt is frustrating, which is exactly why today’s announcement is not an end of the work. We go to work this afternoon on working on solutions for more businesses to open, like hair salons.

Speaker 9: (01:05:34)
Governor, going forward will anything more be done to increase monitoring of African American communities which have been disproportionately hit hardest by this?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:05:44)
We are evaluating that and we are looking forward to working with legislators on trying to formulate strategies that will help us be able to track and monitor and respond to that more effectively.

Speaker 10: (01:05:57)
I couldn’t help but notice the Lieutenant governor mentioned that he suggested people were masks, not mandate, but suggested it. Today in Harris County, as you know, the largest county in our state, third largest County in the country, the county judge mandated that people in Harris County start wearing masks. This happens on the day that you announced big plans to reopen parts of our economy. Some people will hear this and say there’s a disconnect and to that you’d say what, governor?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:06:24)
Well, first, as we lay out in this booklet page after page after page, we strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask. However, it’s not a mandate and we make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine for anyone not wearing a mask. Everyone should be encouraged, but by my executive order, it supersedes local orders with regard to any type of fine or penalty for anyone not wearing a mask.

Speaker 11: (01:07:00)
Governor, you said that we should easily exceed our goal of 25,000 tests per day. Precisely when will that happen and is that a minimum requirement? Does this plan only work if Texas is testing 25,000 people a day?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:07:15)
I’m going to answer this in part but ask Dr. Hellerstedt to answer in part also. I will impart tell you what he’s told me and that is for one getting up to 25,000 tests is something that should occur early on in the May time table that we’re looking at as we work our way through Phase 1. The additional tests will be coming in part from the massive increase in the amount of tests being provided by the private sector. Right before coming out here for this, I was on a telephone conference call with the president as well as with Dr. Birx and they were explaining the increased capacity coming from the private sector to provide those tests.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:07:56)
25,000 is a number that has been provided in part by Dr. Hellerstedt as well as the other doctors on our team and I will let him explain his analysis there.

Dr. Hellerstedt: (01:08:08)
Thank you, Governor. Yes. We’ve looked at the testing capacity around the state, both in the public health system and in the private system, and we believe that we will have available to us at 26,000 tests per day. The other encouraging thing is that part of that call that the governor was on the federal government has committed to solving some of the supply chain problems that have been limiting some of our ability to test. And they’re specifically talking about the testing collection kits and the viral transport media that goes with it and in some cases the personal protective equipment that’s required to obtain a good test.

Dr. Hellerstedt: (01:08:46)
So when those scarcities ease, we will naturally be able to ramp up on the amount of testing that we’re doing. And again, we believe that we have within our grasp the ability to do 26,000 a day. I’d like to add to that though, it’s not just about the testing. The important thing the governor talked about today is the fact that we’re putting in place and beginning to make it more robust every day our contact tracing capability. So in other words, when somebody tests positive, there’ll be a system that can be used statewide so that we can reach out to that person who’s tested positive, understand where they have been, who they might have exposed and then in turn reach out to those same people.

Dr. Hellerstedt: (01:09:29)
And that is a powerful tool in containing any outbreaks of COVID-19. So it’s not just the testing, it’s also the contact tracing as well. And we’re very happy to see that we were able to bring this new system online, the number of new workers that the governor talked about, and again that information technology, that computerized system, if you will, that will enable us to coordinate and track and work with our local partners, our sitting county local health departments in order to have much more robust contact tracing in the future.

Speaker 12: (01:10:06)
Governor, I have seen at least a one poll that shows Texans would like to continue shelter in place orders. I’m sure you’ve seen the poll that I’m referring to. Did that weigh into your decision and talk about that?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:10:20)
The goal was to find strategies that would ensure both safety of the public as well as control of the spread of the coronavirus and allowing businesses to open up as much as possible. But understand this, I know there are people who are still concerned about this. There’s no requirement that those people leave their home. If you want to stay at home, continue to stay at home. If you are involved in a business, there’s no requirement that you open that business. You have every right to choose your own pathway in life and you have ultimate control over your own personal safety and you should use that control.

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:10:59)
And so if you feel like you don’t want to get out and potentially expose yourself, just continue to stay home.

Speaker 13: (01:11:07)
Governor, what’s the enforcement of this going to look like in terms of 25%, 50%? Who’s going to do it and are there any penalties attached?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:11:15)
I missed the last part of the question.

Speaker 13: (01:11:17)
Are there any penalties attached to this? I mean just mostly who’s going to be doing the enforcing here?

Governor Greg Abbott: (01:11:21)
Right. Well, so for all of these executive orders before now and now, there’s several levels of enforcement. For one, there’s the enforcement of up to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. But the more primary enforcement would be either at the local level or the regulatory level. And so for a lot of these businesses, they have an authorization to conduct business in the state of Texas. And if they violate the law, which this is now the law, now they’re subject to losing their license to have an open business.

Speaker 13: (01:11:54)
Thank you.