Gov. Abbott: ‘Restore livelihoods’ and safely re-open businesses soon

Today Dr. Peter Hotez was interviewed during America’s Newsroom on FNC and said that the state of Texas is not expected to hit the peak of the coronavirus outbreak until May 1. Also today, Governor Greg Abbott announced new guidance on financial assistance for small businesses in Texas.

Abbott is shifting his focus to “protecting lives while restoring livelihoods.” He is issuing an executive order to provide businesses a list of guidelines on how to re-open safely later this week.

The announcement from the second largest state will likely sharpen debate over how long Americans should endure crippling economic restrictions to contain a pandemic that has claimed more than 18,000 lives. The medical community and many Democrats have argued for extended closures to reduce infection rates. The business community and many Republicans want to end the deepest recession since the Great Depression before it does lasting economic damage.

Abbott said Texas, which would be the world’s 11th largest economy it was an independent country, could find a balance between personal safety and economic security.

“We will focus on protecting lives while restoring livelihoods,” Abbott said on Friday at a news conference.

Last week top state officials noted that there are signs the coronavirus outbreak is slowing but acknowledged the fight is far from over. Dr. Hotez’s prediction backs that up. He said this is no time to ease up on social distancing measures or any precautions for that matter.

This morning Gov. Abbott announced small business initiatives during a virtual press conference after an hour-long teleconference with Vice-President Pence and the coronavirus task force, including Dr. Birx. Goldman Sachs is pledging $50M in loans through the Small Business Paycheck Program. LiftFund is assisting in efforts to get emergency loans to small businesses. LiftFund is a non-profit organization that helps small business owners with limited access to capital. Later in the week, he will outline strategies for businesses to re-open.

That’s a start but the announcement later in the week will be important. Small business owners are anxious to re-open. Abbott gave the latest numbers on the coronavirus outbreak in Texas, as of this morning: 133,000 tests given, 13,827 tested positive, 1,076 have been hospitalized, and 286 souls have passed away. Also, 2,259 have tested positive but are listed as recovered. This is the second-highest number for patients recovered in the U.S. He wanted to give hope that the cumulative trend line is dropping but was cautious to say that this is true for only the last three days.

Everyone wants to go back to work but the question remains, when? The numbers are going in the right direction now but increased testing most likely will show increases, not decreases. President Trump is getting antsy for the economy to re-start and is beginning to sound as though a power struggle is developing between the executive branch and governors. Governors have the final say as to if a state is shut down or not, yet Trump is tweeting that “he” will make the decision soon. That will be impossible on a countrywide basis as different spots are being affected at different times. As I said, the outbreak in Texas isn’t likely to peak until May 1. Trump did say he is working with governors and others in making a decision.

In a series of tweets, Trump said it’s his call to make — not governors — on when “to open up the states.” The president said a decision would be made soon “in conjunction with the Governors and input from others.”

“For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government,” Trump tweeted. “Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect……..It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”

Houston’s mayor cautioned that the time to re-open is not upon us yet.

“We’re not at the peak yet,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on CNN on Monday when asked if Houston would be ready to open up in a week or two weeks. “We’re a long way from having the testing that we need across the city of Houston.”

Increased testing, and development of a blood test to check for antibodies both must be widely used to start the process of re-opening the economy. Re-opening will take time but the availability of loans for small businesses will help with the financial pain being experienced now. The date of May 1 is an aspiration one, likely not a real one. We’ll see what the governor has to say later this week. Despite President Trump’s desire to blame the Fake News media for the conflict, it is a state’s governor who makes the final decision, not the president. The 10th Amendment is alive and well. Texas, in particular, believes that.

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