Case Counts

Texas               17,582 cases // 443 deaths

United States   662,045 cases // 28,998 deaths

Globally           2,216,228 cases // 151,006 deaths

The White House: Opening Up America Again

Yesterday, the President release the plan to open the country again to business and commerce activities. Titled “Opening Up America Again”, the plan dictates initial criteria for states to meet before stay at home orders can be removed and all businesses can be reopened allowing people to return to work. 

The plan then calls for a phased in approach that sets out a series of requirements that must be met at each stage for states to progress through the process to stage three, which is the full resumption of unrestricted worksites and places of business.

Finally, before moving into the reopening phases, states must also demonstrate strategy to protect the most vulnerable, maintain up to date data, and have a plan to mitigate the effects of a resurgence of cases.

Criteria – In the simplest of terms, for any phased openings by any state, a state must show a downward trajectory of the number of cases and hospitalizations.  States must also demonstrate the ability to conduct testing and screening, have an acceptable level of hospital capacity, and have a plan in place to ensure the public health and safety of their workforce and population in general.

Phase One – Allows for the opening of some businesses that have been closed.  Bars and daycare centers remain closed.  Business that rely on larger gatherings such as restaurants, movie, theaters, and gyms can open, but with strict social distancing guidelines in place.  Schools and youth related activities remain closed, and visits to hospitals and nursing homes are prohibited.

Employers should encourage working remotely when possible.  When in an office setting, close common areas in offices, and non-essential travel is discouraged, but not prohibited.  Isolation is required after travel.

Phase Two – If there is no evidence of a rebound, states can move to this phase.  Social distancing requirements are still required when people are at parks, shopping malls, and other public venues.  Employers are still to encourage working remotely, and close common areas.  But, non essential travel can resume.  Bars can reopen with strict enforcement of over crowding, while gyms, movie theaters, and restaurants should still observe social distancing requirements.  This is also the phase where schools and youth related activities can resume.  However, visits to hospitals and nursing homes are still prohibited.

Phase Three – In states where no rebound is present, this is the phase where full and unrestricted worksites can resume.  Visits to hospitals and nursing homes resume.  Bars and gyms can begin to relax crowd control and large venues can begin to operate under limited social distancing requirements.

More about the plan can be read here:

Governor Abbott’s Plan to Reopen the Economy

Abbott has formed a statewide “strike force” to ensure Texas is safe from a health standpoint to reopen the economy. This is made up mostly of other statewide elected officials such as the Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, and the Attorney General.  Also included are several health care specialists from state agencies and universities. 

There is also  a committee of private citizens involved made up of business people from around the state such as jewelry retailer Kendra Scott, Ross Perot, Jr., and Jim “Mattress Mack” McInvale, and Tilman Fertitta,  as well as tech leader Michael Dell.  This committee will be chaired by Jim Huffines, Austin banker, former UT regent, long time Republican donor and activist, and former staffer to Governor Bill Clements.  Mike Toomey, former state Representative and chief of staff to Governor Rick Perry, will be the committee’s chief operating officer.

Abbott’s order takes a phase in approach to opening the economy, just as Trump’s order did.  There will be announcements next week about the opening of more businesses and practices.

There were three executive orders issued today:

            GA 15 – Relating to hospital capacity – allows doctors and other medical personnel to          perform what they deem are necessary procedures (not related to the pandemic) as           long as they do not have an impact on hospital capacity

            GA 16 – Relating to opening of businesses — Next Friday, April 24th, all retailers in the                    state can reopen and offer “retail to go” services, meaning they can offer to sell their                products  online or over the phone, as long as they are delivered  to customers in drive          by fashion, just as restaurants are doing now.  Also in this order, all state parks reopen   on Monday, with social distancing requirements in effect.  Finally, this order addresses                 schools and declares all public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-       2020 school year.

            GA 17 – Simply sets up the task force outlined above.

On Monday April 27th, more ways will be announced to reopen the state’s economy, along with increased testing requirements that aim to protect vulnerable residents while allowing other to operate in public more freely.  Also to be announced will be parameters outlined for employers follow as a way to reopen offices and other places of business. 

PRESS RELEASE: Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order Establishing Strike Force To Open Texas

Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where he issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Within the orders, select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen using a “Retail-To-Go” model, certain restrictions on surgeries have been loosened, and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Within these orders, the Governor has established the Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the Governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas.

“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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 advisory strike force and Mike Toomey will serve as Chief Operating Officer. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar will serve as consulting members.

In addition, Governor Abbott has appointed Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, as Chief Medical Officer of the strike force. Dr. Hellerstedt will be supported by three Chief Medical Advisors: 

John Zerwas, MD, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System

Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and U.S. Medicaid and Medicare Administrator

Parker Hudson, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Dell Medical School and program director for the Internal Medicine Residency

These 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 who will share innovative ideas to help businesses strategically reopen while containing the spread of COVID-19. The council consists of 39 business leaders representing the state’s regions and industries. The advisory council will collaborate with working groups to devise strategies, statewide standards, and appropriate time frames to reopen the Lone Star State 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 (CDC). The Governor will announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on April 27.  

Special Advisory Council members include:

Arcilia Acosta: President and CEO, CARCON Industries & Construction

Paul Andrews, Jr.: Founder and CEO, TTI Inc.

Mark Bivins: Rancher, partner in Corsino Cattle Company

Kathy Britton: CEO and Owner, Perry Homes

Brad Brookshire: Chairman and CEO, Brookshire Grocery Co.

J. Bruce Bugg, Jr.: Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission 

Alonzo Cantu: President & CEO of Cantu Construction

Bobby Cox: Owner and operator, Bobby Cox Companies, Inc.

Adriana Cruz: Executive Director, Economic Development & Tourism Division, Office of the Governor

Michael Dell: Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies

Scott Dueser: Chairman, President & CEO, First Financial Bank

Don Evans: Chairman of the President George W. Bush Foundation, Chairman of Permian Strategic Partnership

Tilman Fertitta: Chairman, CEO, and sole owner, Landry’s, Inc.

Richard Fisher: Senior Advisor, Barclays and Former President & CEO, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Rick Francis: Chairman of the Board, WestStar Bank Holding Company, Inc.

Printice Gary: Founding Partner/Principal and CEO, Carleton Companies

Brad Heffington: Owner of Heffington Farms, Inc. and Triple T Irrigation, Inc.

Jeffery D. Hildebrand: Executive Chairman and Founder, Hilcorp Energy Company

Nancy Kinder: President & CEO, Kinder Foundation

Tom Luce: Founder and Chairman, Texas 2036

Marc McDougal: CEO, McDougal Companies

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale: Owner, Gallery Furniture

Drayton McLane: Chairman, McLane Group

Elaine Mendoza: Founder, President & CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc

Balous Miller: Owner, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Restaurants

Carla Moran: Ramar Communications

Dennis Nixon: CEO and Chairman of International Bank of Commerce

David Oliveira: Partner at Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, L.L.P.

Ross Perot, Jr.: Chairman, The Perot Group

Kevin D. Roberts, Ph.D.: Executive Director, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Robert B. Rowling: Owner and Chairman, TRT Holdings, Inc.

Kendra Scott: Founder and CEO, Kendra Scott

Robert F. Smith: Founder, Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners

Sam L. Susser: Chairman of BancAffiliated, Inc.

Massey Villarreal: CEO and President, Precision Task Group, Inc.

Kirk Watson: Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs

Marc Watts: President, The Friedkin Group

Graham Weston: Former Chairman of Rackspace Hosting Inc.

Sanjiv Yajnik: President of the Financial Services Division, Capital One

For more information about the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, visit the strike force webpage

The Governor’s second Executive Order (GA-16) relates to the safe, strategic reopening of select services and activities in Texas. This order establishes a temporary “Retail-To-Go” model that will allow retail outlets in Texas to reopen beginning Friday, April 24. Under this model, reopened establishments are required to deliver items to customer’s cars, homes, or other locations to minimize contact.

Under this Executive Order, schools — including public, private, and higher education institutions — will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers may go into the classroom for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and to clean out their classrooms.

The Governor’s third Executive Order (GA-15) relates to hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the COVID-19 response. The order loosens restrictions on surgeries put in place by Governor Abbott in March. Beginning at 11:59pm on April 21 through 11:59pm on May 8, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities must continue to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without timely performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death as determined by a patient’s physician. Exceptions now include:

  • Any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with COVID-19, or
  • Any surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to Texas HHSC both (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, and (2) that it will not request any PPE from any public source — whether federal, state, or local — for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster. 

The Governor today also directed state parks to reopen on Monday, April 20 with strict guidelines to reduce transmission of COVID-19 – including requiring visitors to wear face coverings, maintain a six-foot distance from individuals outside of their party, and prohibiting the gathering of groups larger than five.

Abbott’s Executive Orders