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Gov. Abbott Defends Plan To Reopen Businesses Amid Criticism From Democrats, Some Conservatives

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Governor Greg Abbott defended his decision to gradually reopen businesses starting Friday amid criticism by Democrats who say he's acting too quickly and by some Conservatives who say he's not acting quickly enough.

"We know for a fact that the strategies we are using to open up the state of Texas and the way that we are meets doctor approval," Gov. Abbott said. "But it makes common sense also when you think about the types of businesses that have been open for the past month."

His comments came during a satellite interview Thursday afternoon.

A recent UT/Texas Tribune poll found 56% of Texans surveyed approve of how the governor has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak, while 29% disapprove of his response.
As for Democrats, 51% disapprove of his response to the virus, while 86% of Republicans approve of the job the governor has done.

Many medical experts have said more testing for COVID-19 is needed in the state. It's about 1%.

When asked if he was satisfied about the level of testing and what he is doing to get more tests, the governor said, "The primary source for new testing is coming from the private sector and it is ramping up very rapidly and so the amount of testing will continue to increase."

He also said the raw numbers of people being tested aren't what's most important.

Instead, he pointed to the number of people testing positive remains around or below 10% of the total number tested, and that the state has one of the lowest death rates of COVID-19 per capital.

Abbott said hospitals aren't being overrun.

"We haven't even come close to having that type of challenge in Texas," he said. "We've always had plenty of hospital beds and ventilators and ICU units. We've never had a compromised capacity at our hospital facilities."

While workers at essential businesses have access to childcare, that's not the case for workers at non-essential businesses, who say they're worried about what they will do when they have to return to their jobs.

"Our goal is to be able to expand that to non-essential workers, but most importantly, like we do everything, we want to do so in a safe way. We need to make sure that to the extent we open child care, we're not going to be expanding COVID-19 in Texas," Abbott said.

When asked how soon he would be able to make an announcement about that, the governor said, "Again, it will be as soon as possible. That's a medical decision that I don't have the ability to give you a timeline activation on."

Abbott also announced late Thursday that unemployment benefits would be granted to people who refused to return to work because their child's daycare was closed and they had no alternatives.

Watch the full interview here:


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