If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
From The News-courier staff—
AUSTIN— Gov. Greg Abbott announced a multi-pronged plan to gradually reopen the Texas economy currently stalled amid the new coronavirus outbreak last Friday.
The new orders include closing all schools for the remainder of the academic year, loosening certain restrictions on surgeries and allowing select activities and services reopen, effective tomorrow, using a “Retail-To-Go” model to provide pickup service or deliveries that pose minimal to no threat of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Abbott indicated the team of doctors advising his office determined “it would be unsafe for students to gather in schools for the foreseeable future.”
As expected, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) cancelled all 2019-2020 spring activities and state championships. “Our staff had been working hard on plans to resume activities this spring, but without schools in session, interscholastic activities cannot continue,” said UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt. “We are now turning our attention to the 2020-2021 school year.”
Abbott said online classes should continue to be utilized as an optional teaching method and that teachers could return to schools and perform administrative duties under controlled conditions.
The governor did allow state parks to reopen Monday for public access, citing the importance of mental health for residents practicing self-isolation to help blunt the spread of illness.
Abbott’s plans to reignite the state economy by reopening businesses gradually comes amid growing illness counts and fatalities attributed to the respiratory illness.A newly formed “Strike Force to Open Texas” comprising nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders advising the governor on safely and strategically reopening the state will be in charge.
“Texans are battling a colossal challenge — an invisible enemy that has tested our lives and our livelihoods — but overcoming challenges is part of who we are as Texans,” Abbott said. “We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas. The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission. By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic.”
James Huffines will lead the strike force while Mike Toomey will serve as chief operating officer. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Comptroller Glenn Hegar will serve as consulting members.
Abbott said a panel of health experts will develop a medical architecture to comprehensively test and trace COVID-19 that will enable Texans to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and other activities.
The medical team will work alongside a special advisory council of 39 business leaders who will share innovative ideas to help businesses strategically reopen while prioritizing the health and safety of all Texans
The strike force will immediately begin providing input on potential additional openings of activities and services in Texas consistent with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Abbott said he would announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on April 27.