He hedged his optimism several ways, but Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he sees enough progress against the spread of the coronavirus that he's taking the first steps toward reopening Texas. "We're now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us," Abbott said. In the next week, Texas will reopen its state parks, let customers pick up their purchases at stores and, under certain conditions, allow nonessential surgeries. The governor also announced a new task force on restarting the state's economy, the Texas Tribune reports, though the lieutenant governor has already formed a task force with the same mission. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said his group will work with Abbott's. The announcements Friday mean Texas is the first state to begin taking specific steps to reopen, per the Hill.
On the other hand, Abbott extended school closings from May 4 through the end of the school year. That applies to the state's universities, as well. Republicans have been pushing Abbott to start reopening, while Democrats say it's too early, especially because the state lags in testing. The governor said Texas is going to greatly expand testing but didn't include how or exactly when. A Democratic House leader said Abbott failed to "provide a clear plan for how Texas will increase testing." The state has conducted 169,536 coronavirus tests, among a population of roughly 29 million. Texas has reported more than 400 deaths and said 17,000 people have tested positive for the virus. (Read more Greg Abbott stories.)