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Abbott Says Team Is Working On Plans To Reopen The State, Directs Texans To Jobs Open Now

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Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT

Gov. Greg Abbott said his team is working quickly on a program to get Texans back to work and that he’ll be making an announcement Monday about next steps to reopen the state's economy. 

“The good news is Texas is prepared to be taking very positive steps toward opening up our state and finally ensuring that we’re going to have more of our employees going back to work,” he said during a press conference Tuesday.

He did not say what types of businesses will be able to open.

Abbott said his team has received input from the private sector regarding strategies for safe ways to open while containing the spread of COVID-19. The team is sharing that information with doctors who are reviewing it and making suggestions, he said. 

Right now, the governor said, there are nearly half a million job openings in the state, including at places like Amazon, H-E-B and Randall, as well as in the health care field. He urged people to visit WorkinTexas.com to find jobs in their area.

The pandemic has caused unemployment to skyrocket. The governor said the Texas Workforce Commission has filled more than 1.5 million unemployment claims – about 80% of those eligible – and paid out $1.4 billion on those claims. The remaining claims will be paid quickly, he said, as the commission has expanded its staff to handle the influx.

Abbott also noted Texas will begin allowing people to buy groceries online using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Texas recently received approval to roll out a pilot program for online purchasing. People will be able to log into their SNAP accounts for more information and to find participating retailers. 

The governor also highlighted efforts to increase COVID-19 testing throughout the state. He is deploying the Texas National Guard to various regions to assist with testing. He said once the more than 1,200 personnel are deployed later this week, 25 teams will be able to test a total of 3,500 people per day. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 20,196 cases of COVID-19 in Texas, according the Texas Department of State Health Services, and 205,399 people have been tested. There have been 517 deaths in Texas related to the disease, the agency said, and 6,486 people have recovered.

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