Abbott announces plan to gradually reopen Texas economy amidst pandemic
On April 27, Governor Greg Abbott announced the expiration of the Shelter-in-Place on April 30 and his ‘Open Texas’ plan to reopen and stimulate the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only around 9 percent of jobs with low earnings can be continued over the internet. With this data in mind, Abbott controversially saw saving Texans from unemployment and poverty as a greater threat than COVID-19. Abbott plans to further open Texas in the coming weeks with extreme care despite rising concerns over growing reported cases.
“It is a good thing that Texas is starting to open up its shops and restaurants,” junior Henry Hobson said. “Those who still have the opportunity to shelter in place can now support local businesses and the economy by ordering takeout and dining in restaurants, and those who need to work to feed their families in these hard times now have the choice.”
Abbott claims to have made plans to safely execute this shift. He, along with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has implemented minimum standard health protocols, including a 25 percent capacity cap for most businesses and special guidelines for individuals and facilities with citizens above 65 years of age. With precautions in place and testing programs improving, Abbott felt it was time to open up. He announced this in a tweet on April 27.
“Now it’s time to set a new course,” Abbott tweeted. “A course that responsibly opens up business in Texas.”
With malls, movie theaters, restaurants and retailers opening up in Texas, citizens are permitted to leave their houses and return to some jobs. In addition, hair salons and other beauty services reopened on May 8, and gyms, offices and nonessential manufacturers are allowed to reopen on May 18.
“I don’t think opening prematurely will help the economy,” junior Ava Thompson said. “This past week—the week after Governor Abbot’s decision—Dallas experienced more positive cases than ever before. Initiatives like opening up restaurants to 25 percent capacity will not reap gains dramatic enough to adequately pay workers and rent and stimulate the Texas economy, but they will adequately put workers’ lives at risk. Texas should not become complacent in preventable mass death in the name of dubious economic benefits.”
The Texas government and medical response teams have realized that flare ups due to this announcement would ensue, and they are working toward creating surge teams to tackle outbreaks and keep the Shelter-in-Place order suspended and Texans working for wages.
“I think that Abbott sees the economy as the number one priority when it really should be the at risk citizens who could lose their lives by this pandemic,” junior Jake Griffin said. “I think this order should be seen as a continuation of the shelter in place orders for those who can without economic hardship. People still need to continue washing hands, social distancing, and making an effort to flatten the curve.”
However, the economy truly does pose a large problem for the future. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell stated that as the federal government and state governments argue about how to go about transitioning back into a normal economy, unemployment and investor confidence will dip.
“While the economic response has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks,” Powell said in a recent interview with the New York Times. “Since the answers are currently unknowable, policies will need to be ready to address a range of possible outcomes.”
Whatever the outcome of this pandemic, Texas and the entire U.S. are committed to aiding citizens in economic times of need and health needs.
“The state of Texas is strong; our people, resilient,” Abbott said in a recent twitter post. “As we have seen in years past, when tested by fire, flood, or hurricane, Texans respond with resilience and calm resolve. Just as we overcame those challenges, we will overcome this one…I have no doubt that Texans will continue to work together in that spirit over the coming days and weeks.”