Happening today: Abbott and state officials will discuss efforts to combat COVID-19 as testing questions, economic fears loom


Gov. Greg Abbott was briefed on the coronavirus outbreak in Austin last month. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Friday's biggest developments:

  • Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials will discuss their efforts to fight the spreading coronavirus at a noon press conference.
  • Texas’ limited disclosures about the scope of its testing efforts stand in stark contrast to those of several other states.
  • Business owners already feeling the financial pinch worry that event closures, social distancing may exacerbate their problems.

Governor, health commissioner and emergency chief to discuss coronavirus response

[5:00 a.m.] Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to discuss how the state is combating coronavirus at a noon press conference in Austin.

His comments will come as that state enters an unprecedented period of school district closures, event cancellations and official suggestions that Texans practice social distance amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases, including the first instances community spread in the state's two largest urban areas.

Abbott will be joined by Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt.

Texas officials have yet to say how many Texans have been tested

[5:00 a.m.] Now that Texas health officials have identified two suspected cases of community spread, in Montgomery and Dallas counties, scrutiny of the state’s limited coronavirus testing network is fiercer than ever. Three state lawmakers said Gov. Greg Abbott told them that 104 people were being tested or monitored for the virus, but a Texas Department of State Health Services spokesman said he could not “confirm that number.”

While a lack of testing has been a nationwide issue, Texas’ limited disclosures about the scope of its efforts stand in stark contrast to those of several other states. Unless a patient is sick enough to be hospitalized, state criteria for lab testing is difficult to meet — even for health care workers. — Edgar Walters

As cancellations mount and social distancing sets in, Texans worried about economic impact

[5:00 a.m.] Economists say it’s too soon to tell the full financial impact coronavirus will have on individual Texans, on regions with higher concentrations of the virus or on the state economy as a whole. Many business owners have already started to feel the pinch. And as travel restrictions, prohibitions on large events and numerous school district closures snowball across the state, it’s becoming clear that Texans may just now be on the front end of major disruptions that could rattle businesses even further. — Mitchell Ferman