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Add Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the list of Southern governors champing at the bit to reopen his state's economy before the coronavirus pandemic is in full retreat.
During radio appearances Wednesday, the Republican governor hinted that he could unveil plans by the end of the week about reopening businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and hair salons.
"We're going to be making an announcement opening so many different types of businesses," he said in an interview on Lubbock's KFYO
, "where you're going to be able to go to a hair salon, you're going to be able to go to any type of retail establishment you want to go to, different things like that, with a structure in place to ensure that we slow the spread of the coronavirus."
Last Friday, Abbott announced the formation of a task force
headed by banker and top Republican donor
James Huffines and GOP lobbyist Mike Toomey
to guide reopening efforts. Democrats argued the governor was moving too fast and putting opinions of his political allies over those of public health experts.
During Wednesday's radio appearances, Abbott said he's relying on the medical community for guidance, adding that reopenings may vary by county, depending on their infection levels. He also stressed that businesses would need to operate with new safety standards in place.
While one widely used projection model
— that of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — suggests Texas' death rate may be plateauing, it still shows 37 more people are likely to die today. The state's daily death toll will remain the thirties through May 3, and the model doesn't predict the number of fatalities to reach zero until early June.
The number of COVID-19 cases in San Antonio continues to rise, reaching 1,126 Wednesday. The city has reported 39 deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus.
As states including Florida, Georgia and Tennessee charge ahead with plans to reopen businesses, experts warn that the removal of stay-at-home orders is likely to spur an upswing in infections.
“The math is unfortunately pretty simple. It’s not a matter of whether infections will increase but by how much,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a leading epidemiologist
at Columbia University told the Washington Post
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