AUSTIN, Texas (KCBD) - Gov. Greg Abbott hosted a 2:30 p.m. news conference on Tuesday, his first since Texas entered the first phase of reopening the economy.
During the Tuesday news conference Abbott provided a briefing on Texas’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Abbott began by talking about testing numbers across the state, saying the number of people tested in Texas has increased since April 20, while the percentage of those who return positive tests for COVID-19 has fallen, from around 7% in mid-April, to below 5% as of this week.
Since Friday, retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls have been allowed to open with limited occupancy. Abbott’s plans to reopen the Texas economy were announced on April 27.
The governor has also said other businesses such as hair salons, barbershops and tanning salons will be reopening May 8, and gyms could reopen around May 18. That reopen date depends on the state infection and hospitalization rate through this first phase.
Hair stylists will be able to only work with one customer at a time, with masks preferred. People waiting in barber shops will have to maintain 6-foot separation or wait outside. Meanwhile, gyms will be required to operate at a maximum of 25% of capacity. Showers and locker rooms will be closed, and equipment must be disinfected after each use.
Graduations for high school students will be allowed, with some restrictions. The State says graduation events will be limited to drive by and outdoor events, in order to continue practicing safe social distancing.
In regard to universities, Gov. Abbott says there are concerns for local students and foreign students abroad. The Governor says he’s spoken with the leaders of university systems and it will be the universities’ decision on what their plan will be regarding Fall education, but they must make those plans now before the school year arrives.
The Governor says he has confidence in the direction of the current phased plan, after the approval of medical professionals such as Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Abbott says Dr. Birx mentioned a concern to him regarding education, saying she is wary of a spike in COVID-19 in tandem with flu during the fall school year, and schools may consider opening early to allow for a longer winter break.
Governor Abbott recognized that reopening the state increases the risk of infections, but he says testing and tracing teams, as well as the state’s surge team will be prepared to respond to new infections, and working to mitigate the spread.