At an April 13 press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott said reopening the Texas economy would be a slow process guided by public health concerns, noting that an executive order would be coming soon.
The virus continues to spread, but Abbott struck an optimistic tone, noting the declining rate at which the number of Texas cases was doubling. On Monday, Abbott called the trends "glimmers of hope with a bunch of red flags attached.”
He also noted that Texas ranked second in the country in the number of COVID-19 recoveries.
Abbott was joined by executives from Goldman Sachs and LiftFund to announce loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The loans were made available by a federal program recently created to help small employers.
The governor’s office said the loans "will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees, and will be partially or wholly forgiven."
Abbott acknowledged a record number of Texans had applied for unemployment benefits. In the four weeks from March 16 through April 10, more people applied for unemployment than in all of 2019.
The governor said they maintain constant contact with the White House about testing and other strategies, adding, “We’re working in collaboration to make sure we will be able to slowly, strategically, smartly, and safely begin to open up the expansion of economic development in the U.S.”
According to Abbott, his announcement will include a comprehensive team that will evaluate “what must be done for Texas to open back up, ensuring what we are doing is consistent with data, with medical analysis, as well as strategies about which type of businesses will be able to open up.”
He added, “There will be a level of flexibility in the state.”
Abbott also said to expect an announcement this week on whether schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year. He had previously ordered them closed until May 4.
As of press time, 146,467 Texans had been tested for COVID-19, with 14,624 testing positive, or about 9.9%, and 318 deaths, or about 2.1% of those testing positive. No cases of the coronavirus had yet been identified in the Tri-County.
Locally, both Brewster County and the City of Alpine still have orders in place directing all individuals living in the county and the city to stay at home in their residence, prohibiting all public or private gatherings of any size, shutting down all but essential businesses, banning all travel except for essential activities, and imposing a county-wide 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew. The order is effective until 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
Finally, on April 14, U.S. Senator John Cornyn announced that the Sul Ross State University Alpine campus would receive a $1,779,991 federal grant to respond to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The grant comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.
At least 50% must go toward providing students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. The CARES Act allows the university discretion in how to award this assistance to its students.