AUSTIN, Texas - In a highly anticipated press conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott announced some businesses, like malls, restaurants, and movie theaters, will reopen in the state of Texas starting Friday.
However, several organizations, including the Texas Democrats, voiced that this is not the best idea. On Monday afternoon, they hosted a press conference call following Abbott's announcement.
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"We're dealing with a healthcare crisis and health crisis, we have to deal with the healthcare crisis to get the economy moving," said Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16). She says we do not know how many people are truly COVID-19 positive and that in El Paso County, cases are still on the rise, which puts communities at risk.
"Without robust testing, we don't really know the magnitude of results," Escobar said. "We'll continue to remain in the dark."
"My friends in my world have taken senior citizens out of a nursing home to be in a safer environment at home, if they have to go to a retail environment, are they going to be safe and eligible for unemployment?" state Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) asked. She says there also needs to be more transparency about the Texas Workforce Commission.
The Texas House Democratic Caucus released a statement Monday, saying in part:
“The Governor said very little about what workers can do when they go back to work. For example – will they get sick days or workers compensation if they contract COVID-19? Do we have enough PPE supplies for everyone going back to work? We still have more questions than answers, and the continued lack of transparency and accuracy in communicating data should be of great concern for every Texan.”
State Sen. Nathan Johnson says if businesses are allowed to open, we should revisit restrictions to allow mail-in votes.
In closing, they all agreed there's real pain going on out there, and hope for more clarity moving forward.
Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, issued the following statement in response:
“We all want businesses to safely reopen as soon as possible and that’s why I’m disappointed we did not hear more details on how Texas’ COVID-19 testing would increase. We’re near last in the nation on per capita testing and Gov. Abbott didn’t present a clear plan how that’s going to change, even though experts agree that widespread testing is essential to any reopening plan.
"Additionally, cases continue to increase – for example, last week Tarrant County reported a weekly high number of nearly 800 new cases. Statewide, we saw a day-today jump of 967 cases this weekend, one of the highest ever. The data directly contradicts what Gov. Abbott is saying, which causes great concern. An incremental approach makes some sense, but until we have proven additional testing capacity and an actual downward trajectory in new cases, the plan is not actually based on data or science.
“Finally, the Governor said very little about what workers can do when they go back to work. For example – will they get sick days or workers compensation if they contract COVID-19? Do we have enough PPE supplies for everyone going back to work? “We still have more questions than answers, and the continued lack of transparency and accuracy in communicating data should be of great concern for every Texan.”
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