• Gov. Greg Abbott is reopening Texas as early as April 20
  • State parks, medical procedures and retailers can resume gradual operations
  • Further reopening guidelines will be disclosed on April 27

Following President Donald Trump's new guidelines on lifting coronavirus quarantine restrictions, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the first wave of his plans to reopen the state as early as April 20.

Abbott, a Republican, confirmed in a press conference that state parks and retailers would be the first to resume operations, and some medical procedures will resume too. State parks may open to visitors by Monday, with a strict requirement for people to wear face coverings and observe physical distancing.

Elective procedures at hospitals, such as cancer biopsies, may also resume by Wednesday (April 22). Non-essential retailers, on the other hand, may begin "retail to go" operations on Friday.

“This temporary plan should let you access core retailers while minimizing contact with others,” the governor said.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas will be reopening its economy as early as April 20 following coronavirus restrictions. Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Further reopening guidelines will be announced by April 27. Schools in Texas, however, will remain closed until the end of the school year, but teachers and personnel may come to school for administrative duties.

The governor established a Strike Force to Open Texas team composed of community leaders in the private and public sector as well as medical experts. They have been advising Abbott on the safest and most strategic process of reopening the state's economy.

“We must be guided by data and doctors and put health and safety first,” Abbott said. “We must prioritize protecting our most vulnerable populations.”

To date, about 428 people have died from COVID-19 in Texas, which has recorded 17,300 cases, per the Texas Department of State Health Services. The state was able to conduct close to 170,000 coronavirus tests for its population of 29 million.

The governor said that, while the death count is high, trends and data readings suggest that Texas will "not come close to the early dire predictions."

"We're now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us," Abbott said. "We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus."

Two other states are also slowly loosening its quarantine orders. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said outdoor activities like golfing, hiking, hunting, boating and fishing will be allowed beginning Saturday (April 18). Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his "Relief, Reopening, Recovery" framework, which outlined the stages of the resumption of activities. The framework doesn't have specific dates so far.

Scientists have warned that opening the U.S. economy will carry more risks of the virus spread, which should be part of their risk management strategies.

"Governors should consider reopening in phases separated by 2 to 3 weeks,” the experts said in the report Public Health Principles for a Phased Reopening During COVID-19: Guidance for Governors from Johns Hopkins University. “After each phase of reopenings, state public health officials should review the numbers of new case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths carefully.”