As new models show a brighter projection of the impact of coronavirus in Texas than previously predicted, many Texans have been left wondering when they can get back to work.
Gov. Greg Abbott says he’s looking to Washington D.C. for guidance.
Texas remains one of the states least impacted by the virus. While New York has suffered 319 deaths per million residents, and New Jersey 169, Texas has suffered 6, among the lowest in the nation.
Over the past several days, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has ratcheted down its previously catastrophic predictions of the virus’ reach across the country. For example, in Texas, the model previously predicted that 17,221 hospital beds of the nearly 30,000 available would be necessary to respond to the virus. As of publishing, that number is only 3,444. The number has been revised down in the past two days.
And perhaps more importantly, the “peak” of the outbreak is now predicted to be on April 22, significantly sooner than the May 6 date previously projected.
Meanwhile, many people across the state, including small-business owners, have seen their personal financial situations deteriorate as a result of the government response that has all but shut down the state’s economy. Despite revisions to the models, the latest executive order barring “non-essential” activity has been set to last through April 30.
Texas unemployment is projected to reach 9 percent, or more, in mid-April, matching the all-time high. At a press conference on Wednesday to discuss updates on the state’s response to COVID-19, Texas Scorecard asked Abbott if Texans should expect their elected officials to similarly refresh their approach in light of the new projections and struggling businesses and families.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit with the Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin as well as both the president and the vice president on this very issue,” Abbott said. “They want to be able to get certain portions of businesses up and running again … they want to make sure they do so in a way that doesn’t increase or restart the spread of the coronavirus.”
“They are working on strategies as we speak to find unique and maybe initially limited ways of restarting business and getting it going as quickly as possible,” he added.
As for a timeline, Abbott shied away from selecting a specific date, only saying he was looking forward to “hopefully being able to announce very soon.”
“I would like to see the recharging of the business sector to happen as quickly as possible with as many businesses as possible in alignment with the standards set by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and by the president,” he added.
“The perception I have from what the president is talking about is that the standards they come up with probably will not be ‘one size fits all’ concerning every state.”
As an example, Abbott highlighted New York, which has experienced a swell of cases, and rural Nebraska, which has comparatively seen far fewer cases.
“There are still 80-90 counties [in Texas] that have zero cases of COVID-19,” Abbott said, adding that he believed federal guidelines would favor areas with fewer cases and less spread of the disease.