While governors in some parts of the country like North Carolina are considering the possibility of extending their stay at home orders beyond April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is preparing to lay the groundwork for gradually reopening his state.

The governor announced via a press conference on Friday that an executive order would be coming later this week addressing the state’s plan to ease its way back into business:

While stressing that it’s not yet clear when the state’s COVID-19 cases will peak, Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday said he will issue an executive order next week focused on economic revitalization.

“Next week, I will be providing an executive order talking about what will be done in Texas about reopening businesses,” he said in a news conference at the Texas Capitol, adding that the order will be based on federal guidance on how best to stoke the economy while promoting safety.

“We can do both (and) expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work,” he said.


He offered no additional details about the order beyond saying that he will use guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and other state and federal health officials.

“We all want Texans to go back to work as quickly as possible,” he said. “But understand that we will do so in ways that protect lives and promote the livelihoods of fellow Texans.”

In an interview Gov. Abbott did with Houston’s KPRC Friday, he delivered a similar message.

Noting he had “remained in contact” with President Trump and Vice President Pence and their team over the last several weeks as they developed a national strategy for beginning the process of reopening, Abbott stated that “we must articulate the pathway of how we go about this process.”

“[And] in doing so,” he stressed, “making sure that people are going to be safe” so that the Wuhan Coronavirus doesn’t “reignite” at a later time by way of people “rushing the gates automatically” in an effort to get their lives back to normal.

Boasting that Texas was the number one state in the country for doing business, the governor also said that the only way they’d be able to begin the process is by everyone continuing to follow recommended safety guidelines in order to slow the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus, because the state was “still seeing [case] growth” in places like Harris County.

“Stay home,” Abbot advised.

When asked about what the timeline for Texas might look like, Abbott was vague on details, saying they would be coming soon. Abbott also told KPRC that he wanted to make sure Texas was “in the lead on opening the state up for business, but also that we remain in the lead by making sure we have strategies that will prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Watch the segment below:

Back on March 19th, Abbott issued an executive order that effectively shut down bars and restaurants, public schools, gyms, and the like. Local governments across Texas also put their own measures in place for dealing with the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.

This week will mark the 4th week the state has been operating under that executive order and, like those in other states who have been under similar direction, people in Texas no doubt are eager to get back to work and return to some sense of normalcy so they can provide for themselves and their families, and go about their normal daily business.

While it’s clear Abbott is on board with doing that, his pledge to take a measured and balanced approach is smart. It shows he understands that getting back to normal is not something that can or should happen overnight, because you don’t want to risk the possibility the spread of the virus will rapidly accelerate. You also don’t want to put the lives of those most susceptible to catching the virus at risk by going too fast too soon.

At the same time, being out of work for weeks is already having emotional and psychological impacts on people across the country. The longer they’re told to stay at home, the more vulnerable those people become.

It remains to be seen what the structure will be for reopening Texas, as Abbott hasn’t and won’t give out the details on the executive order until later this week. But you can best bet the White House will be paying attention and that Trump will go full-court press on amplifying Abbott’s efforts because, like Abbott, Trump is keenly aware that the country cannot survive being in a holding pattern for a prolonged period of time.

To be sure, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every state. But Texas may ultimately serve as a model for other states in similar situations on gradually reopening using a strategic approach.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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