AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott believes current restrictions of the movement of the general public should be based on the advice of medical experts.
His stance puts him at odds with President Trump and and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both of whom are itching to get people out of their homes and back in order to work to boost economic activity.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Abbott said he is being guided by medical professionals such as John Hellerstedt, the state health commissioner; Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force.
Abbott said: “I will base my decision as governor of the state of Texas on what physicians say.” The governor went out of his way to say the health of the public comes first.
“If the goal is to get the economy going, the best thing we can do to get the economy going is to get COVID-19 behind us,” Abbott said.
Patrick was on Fox News on Monday evening. He said that as a grandfather he would rather save the economy for the good of his six grandchildren, than personally be protected from the coronavirus.
“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in,” he said.
“And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me … that what we all care about and what we all love more than anything are those children.”
Patrick said that while he hoped to live through the pandemic, he did not want the whole country to be sacrificed.
“I’ve talked to hundreds of people … and just in the last week, and making calls all the time and everyone says the pretty much the same thing, that we can’t lose our whole country. We are having an economic collapse,” Patrick said.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was asked where he stood on the question of putting the health of the nation before economic considerations. In a conference call with reporters, Cornyn said:
“I think what we are all trying to balance is public health concerns and the economic impact of this virus. This is an extraordinary and unprecedented time. The fact that Republicans and Democrats have come together and passed a $2 trillion relief bill speaks for itself. It has never happened before.”
Cornyn said he thought Patrick was talking about his own well-being and that he was “concerned about this children and grandchildren.” He said it was important to follow the protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in terms of social distancing and personal hygiene.
“I think the mayors and the county judges have to make very difficult but important decisions with regard to public gatherings and shutting down some of these businesses but we all recognize that there are extraordinary harm to those businesses and to our economy that we need to deal with,” Cornyn said.
“I think we need to find the right balance. Yesterday, the president said he would hope we are open again for business by Easter. I think he was expressing his hope not what we are going to do as a matter of policy. But I think first and foremost we need to protect the public health. We need to kill this virus. Unless we do that we will not be able to get our economy back in line or create the jobs that we all needs.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking during a press conference about the state’s response to the coronavirus on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Photo: Nick Wagner / Austin American-Statesman)