Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is currently chipping away at his stay-at-home order to reopen his state’s economy, privately told his state legislature and members of Congress during a phone call last Friday that doing so will cause further spread of COVID-19.
“Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening—whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or just a reopening of society—in the aftermath of something like this, that actually will lead to an increase in spread,” he said, according to a recording of the call. “It’s almost ipso facto.”
The governor told lawmakers that “the goal never has been to get transmission of COVID-19 down to zero” because “there will always be a level of transmission.”
“And even when you have an immunization come out, there will be a transmission rate for COVID-19,” he said. “So everyone needs to understand that fact.”
Abbott made the remarks on last Friday on May 1, the same day all Texas malls, retail stores, restaurants, and movie theaters were allowed to reopen “with limited occupancy” under his executive order. President Donald Trump applauded the governor for the move.
The phone call was first reported by the Daily Beast.
In contrast with Abbott’s private comments, Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick (R) argued during an interview in April with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that medical experts’ warnings against prematurely reopening the economy didn’t mean much.
“They told us, Tucker, to follow the science,” Patrick said. “Well, what science?”