• Abbott wants to allow nonessential retailers to deliver merchandise to customers' cars and homes
  • The executive order also eases restrictions on surgical procedures
  • Texas coronavirus cases are not expected to peak until April 29

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott became one of the first governors Friday to move to reopen his state’s economy, appointing a “strike force” and revising social distancing and other guidelines to allow retail outlets to reopen beginning next Friday. The move comes as backlashes were growing in other states against stay-at-home orders that have thrown millions of Americans out of work and triggered a recession.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced he would allow golf courses and driving ranges to reopen at 5 a.m. CDT Saturday, as can bait shops, shooting ranges and game farms, public and private parks and trails, marinas and other recreational venues.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf laid out his reopening plan, setting benchmarks rather than target dates.

The actions followed the unveiling of nonbinding recommendations from the White House Thursday that outlined a three-step process for restarting the economy heavily dependent on widespread testing, an ability that remains lacking.

“We’re now beginning to see glimmers that the worst of COVID-19 may soon be behind us,” Abbott said from the Texas Capitol.

Abbott signed executive orders allowing nonessential retailers to deliver items to customers’ cars, homes and other locations beginning April 24. Teachers will be allowed to go into classrooms for video instruction, but schools will remain closed to students for the remainder of the school year.

Abbott also loosened restrictions on hospitals, easing restrictions on surgery although procedures for non-life-threatening conditions remain on hold.

More recommendations are to be announced April 27.

“We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas,” Abbott said in a statement.

The announcement came even though Texas coronavirus cases are not expected to peak until April 29, Becker’s Hospital Review said Friday. Abbott said the number of new cases per day has slowed. The state’s health department said 17,371 Texans have tested positive for coronavirus and 428 have died from COVID-19. Testing, however, has been limited.

Abbott created a Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas composed of medical professionals, as well as business leaders and politicians, with a goal of “reopening Texas businesses across a variety of sectors in a strategic, healthy and productive manner that protects workers and consumers.”

Elsewhere, groups calling themselves ReOpen Wisconsin and Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine have called for a protest next Friday against that state’s stay-at-home order, which was expected to be extended beyond its current May 1 expiration.

"Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine. However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny," Reopen Wisconsin said, adding, “It is not sustainable to continue this lockdown as the economic and societal consequences will be irreversible.”

Protests popped up earlier this week in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blamed the demonstrations on people going “stir crazy.”