WASHINGTON, DC (KCBD) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott was at the White House on Thursday, talking about the state’s effort to contain the coronavirus. President Trump and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force praised the governor’s containment strategy and his plans to reopen the Texas economy.
"We have learned so much the past few months. We now know how to go in and contain, and we now have the resources to go in and contain," Abbott said.
Abbott cited comprehensive testing as the primary method used to contain outbreaks at senior centers and meat packing plants.
“We now have all these strategies to allow the rest of the economy to go and grow while we manage to contain the outbreaks where they exist.”
Abbott said they have managed to contain the spread of the virus while establishing “surge forces” ready to respond to flare-ups.
"It's like putting out a fire," Abbott said.
Surge Force containing outbreak in Texas Panhandle
Abbott cited the surge force currently working in the Texas Panhandle in Amarillo and just north of Amarillo, in response to outbreaks at meat packing plants.
Abbott said there were three main sources for cases here in Texas: meat packing plants, jails, and senior centers.
"So we have task forces that focus on those three areas," Abbott said. "If it weren't for those three areas, the people testing positive in Texas would be very minimal."
President Trump praised Texas for its efforts with senior centers, "The time and effort and love that you're giving to senior citizens...the governor has really made that a point."
Abbott said because of those efforts, "We have one of the lowest death rates in the United States of America."
No jail time for business owners
When asked about the role of police in enforcing restrictions on business, Abbott said, “We should not be taking these people and putting them behind bars. People who have spent their life building up a business and being told to shut it down and lose every penny they have - if they don’t follow every fine point of the rules they are suddenly subject to arrest - that is wrong.”
Release of Dallas beauty salon owner Shelley Luther
Gov. Abbott and President Trump discussed the case of Dallas beauty salon owner Shelley Luther.
Gov. Abbott said after his executive order and action by the Texas Supreme Court, “She’s free today.”
The president praised Luther, saying "She looked so great, so professional, so good, talking about her children... We can do things ministerially, through executive order or otherwise that can help a lot of people...delays of various filings, I could see that happening."
Birx praises governors’ knowledge, response to virus
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx praised the governors' knowledge of epidemiology, saying "They will never be confused in another pandemic ever again."
Birx was impressed by Abbott’s command of the data in Texas, being able to identify the source for outbreaks around the state.
"He was able to answer every county and what the issue was," Birx said. "When you look at Houston, when you look at Dallas, and you see the ability to really contain and mitigate those epidemics, but at the same time contain epidemics and not allow them to spread in the community, this is what we've been asking governors to do with the tests and using focus testing to really find asymptomatic cases and protect the vulnerable."
“The ability to go into prisons, into meat packing plants and go into the senior care centers and proactively test is really quite extraordinary,” Birx said.
"Half of our counties either have no cases, or five or fewer cases," Abbott said.
President Trump cited the rising price of oil as being good for Texas, up to $25 a barrel on Thursday.
Abbott said, “Give it a year.”
President Trump also expressed support for the idea of COVID liability insurance for businesses, to protect business owners from litigation and legal fees.