- Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans last month to gradually reopen Texas businesses.
- Publicly, the governor has said that there will be an increase in cases of the novel coronavirus but attributed a possible rise to more available testing.
- In a private call with lawmakers on Friday, however, the governor acknowledged that scientific research shows that reopening the state will lead to infection spread through person-to-person transmission, the Daily Beast reported.
- The outlet posted a recording of the call and confirmed its authenticity with Abbott’s office.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In a private phone call with lawmakers on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged that reopening businesses in the state will lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, the Daily Beast reported.
Abbott announced his plans to end lockdown measures in Texas late last month and has previously said publicly that if there is an increase in coronavirus cases after the reopening they will be tied to increased testing.
However, in audio of the call posted in the Daily Beast’s report, the governor said that “every scientific and medical report shows” that reopening will lead to more transmissions.
“How do we know reopening businesses won’t result in faster spread of more cases of COVID-19?” Abbott asked during the phone call with members of the state legislature and Congress. “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening-whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society-in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”
The Daily Beast confirmed was authentic with Abbott’s office.
“The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission,” Abbott said during the call. “The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero.”
The Friday call wasn’t the first time Abbott acknowledged that there “can” or “could” be a correlation between the reopening and a spike in confirmed cases, but his tone in the call indicated a clearer understanding of the risks, the outlet noted.
John Wittman, a spokesperson for Abbott, told the outlet that Abbott’s language in the audio message doesn’t deviate much from a recent interview he gave to a local TV station. In the interview, Abbott said, “all scientists and doctors say that as we do begin to open up, there could be an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.”
However, the governor said in the interview that the possible spike would be a result of improved capacity for testing in the state, rather than the increase of personal contact as public spaces open back up.
“The Governor has said this from the beginning, as we begin to open up, we will see flare-ups, whether we open now or three months from now,” Wittman told The Daily Beast. “The key is ensuring we are able to contain that spread, which is where contact tracing comes into play.”
Abbott announced last month that the state would deploy a multi-stage reopening plan beginning on May 1 with retail stores, malls, restaurants, and movie theatres.
The second wave is slated for May 18 and will include barbershops, hair salons, bars, and gyms. As part of the gradual ease of restrictions, public establishments will be required to operate at no more than 25% capacity and up to 50% in select rural areas.