WATCH: Gov. Abbott closes schools, announces plan to re-open economy

Posted at 11:49 AM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 15:49:58-04

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a plan to reopen the Texas economy in stages during the COVID-19 pandemic and also canceled the rest of the school year for Texas schools.

“We will focus on restoring lives while protecting livelihoods,” Abbott said April 10. “We can and we must do this, we can do both— expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work.”

He laid out the beginning of a strategy in a news conference Friday, announcing the establishment of what he calls a "strike force" to help determine how to open Texas businesses in a safe manner. The team will include Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former federal Medicaid and Medicare administrator Dr. Mark McClellan, and several doctors from various Texas universities.

"Because of the efforts by everyone to slow the spread, we're now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us," Abbott said.

Abbott said the plan means that surgery restrictions imposed on March 22 will be lifted to allow elective surgeries to resume, and on March 24, he will announce a plan to allow the retail sector to open back up under a "to-go" model.

He also announced that state parks will open on April 20, but visitors will be required to use face masks and must maintain social distance.

Texas has conducted 169,536 coronavirus tests as of early Friday afternoon in a state of 29 million people, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The stream of today's conference is also available on our Facebook page.

KRIS producer Jenica Sabelstrom contributed to this story.