April 13, 2020

Republican Governor Sees Light in Coronavirus Tunnel
Without Predicting How Far the Rebound Train Could Be

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Governor Greg Abbott indicated that the coronavirus has started to level off in Texas when he made a case on Monday for the deliberate approach that he plans to take in a reset of a Texas economy that's been effectively shut down for a month in attempt to keep the spread of the disease to a minimum.

But the Republican governor suggested that the guarded optimism that an apparent flattening of the pandemic curve has sparked is not a green light for a rapid return to life like it used to be in the Lone Star State before the COVID-19 outbreak here.

"I will call it glimmers of hope with a whole bunch of red flags attached to those glimmers of hope," Abbott said. "The glimmers come from what the numbers are beginning to show."

But Abbott stopped short of predicting when the state would be up and running again as quickly as President Donald Trump envisions with a target date for a full-scale revivial by the first of May.

"I would caution you, however, that it is too early to decisively make that call," the governor added.

Trump warned earlier Monday that governors around the nation might lose the power to determine when lockdowns will if he exerts his singular authority to make such a decision. 

Abbott said this afternoon that the number of people who are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus had dropped to 1,176 - the lowest in-patient count in a full week. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas had grown to 14,041 by the early evening with 305 deaths based on the running totals at Johns Hopkins University. But Abbott said that the fatality rate in Texas had increased by a smaller amount in the past three days than it had in the same sum of time last week.

That represents a jump of about 4 percent over the past 24 hours. Abbott said the number of positive tests in Texas went up 12 percent on Friday before the daily increase rate had fallen to 10 percent by today.

But the governor tempered the speculation on Texas nearing the virus peak by adding that the count has been lower on Sundays throughout the crisis as a possible consequence of fewer tests being administered or less reporting of their results or both.

Abbott said he was pleased nonetheless with the current trending and "very, very proud" to report that Texas ranks second in the nation in the number of people who've recovered after testing positive for COVID-19. Texas - the nation's second largest state - has had more than 2,000 coronavirus recoveries compared to more than 17,000 in New York where 14 times has many people have tested positive for the disease. The death rate in Texas has been 2 percent so far while 5 percent of the confirmed cases in the state of New York have ended in death. The coronavirus death rate nationwide has been slightly more than 3 percent.

New York City and surrounding areas in New Jersey and Connecticut had been caught by surprise and insufficiently prepared when the outbreak erupted there in February and overwhelmed medical facilities. But Abbott said that Texas hospitals have had adequately equipped for the surge here last month.

The governor said the Texas Workforce Commission had been working frantically to field a flood of unemployment claims in the first four weeks of lockdowns that have temporarily suspended business operations that he hasn't designated as essential.

Abbott said that the number of jobless claims that have been processed in Texas has almost tripled between Friday and Monday with more than $400 million being shelled out to people who'd been laid off or furloughed.


Copyright 2003-2020 Capitol Inside