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Gov. Abbott hints at Monday announcements on bars, child care, possibly sporting facilities

(KBTX)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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Gov. Greg Abbott is preparing to announce the next phase of reopening Texas on Monday.

Ahead of that announcement, Gov. Abbott joined News 3 at Six to discuss the state of COVID-19 in Texas.

See the full conversation in the video player above.

News 3’s Kathleen Witte:

This week, our County Health District told us they do not believe we have reached the peak here locally. We’re not the only county reporting that kind of modeling. How does the state reconcile reopening, albeit slowly, while public health officials in some areas are saying the worst is yet to come?

Gov. Greg Abbott:

Well, I’ve got to tell you—remember some of the early models that predicted these dire outcomes for the state of Texas? Talking about deaths reaching like 260 per day and these skyrocketing projections—and it just never panned out. So what we look at is the real data about what’s taking place, and here’s the fact: the fact is that the growth rate of COVID-19 in the state of Texas is leveling off. The fact is that hospitalizations, for example there are 28 fewer today than there were yesterday, and yesterday they were lower than the day before. The fact of the matter is that hospitalizations in the state of Texas have stayed relatively flat during this entire time. The most important thing that you have to look at is hospitalizations. We don’t want Texas to become like New York or New Jersey. When it comes down to what really matters, which is hospitalizations, Texas has done a superior job to almost any state in the United States. Bryan-College Station, the Greater Houston area, every place I know of in the state of Texas looks great.

KW:

It has been reported that you yourself conceded that there might be a surge in cases as the state reopens. Do you believe our hospitals are ready for that? How do we know we are ready for that?

Gov. Abbott:

Because I looked earlier today at hospital availability across the entire state of Texas. There are so many hospital beds available. What we’ve done is we have allowed additional operation procedures to take place so that everybody could take care of all their health care needs while still having abundant hospitals as well as ventilators to make sure that everyone would be able to be taken care of. Just know that the growth rate of this virus is—listen if we continue the safe practices that we’ve had, of washing your hands and safe distancing practices and wearing a mask while you’re out, we will be able to open up in a safe way: allow people to earn a paycheck and put food on the table while at the same time containing COVID-19.

KW:

We’re hearing from local non-essential workers who say they need access to child care as they’re expected to go back to work and earn a living. As you certainly know, licensed child care facilities are only open for children of essential workers right now. How and when are you addressing this need for non-essential workers?

Gov. Abbott:

Child care is so incredibly important to the people who want to get back to work. That’s exactly why I’ve been working with my team of medical advisors as well as experts in this area of providing child care, understanding that when you are taking care of children, it’s difficult for them to practice safe distancing practices. They’re coming from a lot of different homes, and they are returning to those homes. We need to work on safe ways. We’ve been working so hard on it, I sure hope to be able to announce something this coming Monday.

KW:

What is the hold-up with reopening bars, and will we see any changes to this policy in Phase 2?

Gov. Abbott:

Listen, I really appreciate the way bar owners have been working with my office, providing us with great strategies. You know, bars are set up to operate in a way that’s opposite to what we’re seeking to do in COVID. In COVID, we’re trying to practice distancing practices, but bars bring people together. So bars have to operate counterintuitively to what they typically could. Bar owners have reached out to us, talking about ways they could set up like restaurants where people would be sitting at a table, separated from others. So we’re looking at some of those strategies, talking to our doctors about them, and just like with regard to daycare, looking forward to making an announcement on Monday.

KW:

You are encouraging Texans to wear face masks when they’re out and about—particularly in busy spaces, like grocery stores. To be clear, you have not mandated it. But what is your message to Texans who refuse to wear masks—and who boycott businesses that require them—on the basis of civil liberty?

Gov. Abbott:

Wearing a face mask is one of the best practices. What we all want to achieve and what will allow us to open up businesses even more is the more we do to slow the spread of COVID-19. There are four things you can do to do that. One is wear a mask. Two is sanitize your hands. Three is to make sure you maintain these safe distancing practices. The fourth—which may the most important—is if you are age 65 and older, especially if you have other health conditions, it is important that you try to stay at home because we don’t want you to be exposed to COVID-19.

KW:

Since gyms are reopening in a limited capacity, would you consider allowing school athletic facilities to reopen at some capacity for student-athletes to start getting back into shape for fall sports?

Gov. Abbott:

You know, we’re looking at sporting activities across the board. We’ve consulted with leaders in that industry, and we’ve provided and shared information with our medical team. They’re going through that analysis as we speak. Again, [we’re] seeing if there is any possible way we can announce anything about that on Monday.

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