TIMELINE: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: A coronavirus timeline of evolving messages to Texans, the nation, the world

Gov. Greg Abbott (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the message from government officials has evolved.

Texas is no exception. At the center of Texas’ response was and is Gov. Greg Abbott. His orders and messaging about the coronavirus have changed as the pandemic’s impact has deepened in the state.

Here’s a look back in chronological order at the governor’s official -- and unofficial -- communications about coronavirus.


February 26, 2020

Governor Abbott to provide Texans with an update on coronavirus Thursday


March 13, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to issue disaster declaration over coronavirus

March 17, 2020

As coronavirus stops people from gathering, Gov. Greg Abbott suspends part of open-meetings law

“Gov. Greg Abbott suspended a part of the Texas Open Meetings Act — which guarantees the public can access and participate in government meetings — Monday in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Texas Tribune report on Click2Houston.com

March 13, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott declares statewide emergency, says state will soon be able to test thousands

March 19, 2020

Here’s what Gov. Greg Abbott’s health disaster declaration means for Texas

“Abbott said the order, which takes effect at midnight Friday and is in place until April 3, is aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed four lives in the state.

From the Click2Houston.com report on March 19, 2020

March 16, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says expect ‘exponential’ increase in positive coronavirus cases

March 17, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott postpones special Texas Senate election due to coronavirus pandemic

Abbott’s office said postponing the election “is another step the state is taking to protect health and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on March 17, 2020.

March 17, 2020

Texas coronavirus cases prompt Gov. Greg Abbott to activate National Guard

March 19, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texans to avoid groups of 10; closes bars, gyms and restaurants for dine-in

March 21, 2020

Coronavirus updates in Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott says 566 presumptive positive and confirmed cases in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said that 566 people in Texas have received presumptive positive or confirmed tests for the new coronavirus — and acknowledged that state health officials’ daily disclosures of Texas cases have excluded an unknown number of those cases.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on March 21, 2020

March 22, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott issues directives to expand Texas hospital capacity, but stops short of shelter-in-place order

March 22, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott prepping state’s health care system for potential influx of coronavirus patients

March 24, 2020

Worried about current compliance, Gov. Greg Abbott signals openness to stricter coronavirus order

March 26, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott orders air travelers from New Orleans and around New York to self-quarantine

March 27, 2020

Caught between local officials and Donald Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott carefully navigates coronavirus

March 29, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Gov. Greg Abbott discusses the Texas response to the coronavirus pandemic

March 31, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas schools will stay closed until at least May 4

Abbott made clear he did not consider the executive order a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order, taking issue with that terminology. Instead, “this is a standard that’s based upon essential services and essential activities,” Abbott said.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on March 31, 2020


April 3, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t calling it a stay-at-home order. But he’s telling Texans to stay at home.

When Gov. Greg Abbott told Texans this week to restrict their social interactions except for essential activities, he made his thinking clear: He didn't consider his latest executive order a "stay-at-home" order.

That distinction caused some confusion about what exactly his order intended to do. Residents in many states have been told to stay at home to fight the spread of the new coronavirus. Was Abbott's order different? Was he not going that far?

In subsequent interviews and statements, Abbott was clearer. The order "requires all Texans to stay at home except to provide essential services or do essential things like going to the grocery store," he said in a video message released Wednesday afternoon, hours before the executive order went into effect.

In other words, the order does what many other governors’ recent orders do — just with different branding.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 3, 2020

April 10, 2020

Gov. Abbott says he will sign an executive order next week on how Texas businesses will begin to reopen

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he will sign an executive order next week laying out how Texas businesses will begin to reopen “in a way that is safe.”

Click2Houston.com on April 10, 2020

April 12, 2020

Gov. Abbott extends disaster declaration for coronavirus pandemic in Texas

April 13, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says reopening the Texas economy will be a slow process

April 13, 2020

How to get help for your small business through Gov. Greg Abbott’s new initiative

Texas gov. Greg Abbott announced a new initiative Monday, making $50 million in loans available to Texas small businesses to help stay afloat through the coronavirus crisis.

Click2Houston.com on April 13, 2020

April 13, 2020

‘Glimmers of hope’: Abbott gives coronavirus update, touches on reopening economy and schools

“We have to understand that we must reopen in a way in which we are able to stimulate the economy while at the very same time ensuring that we contain the spread of COVID-19.”

Gov. Abbott on April 13, 2020

April 16, 2020

Abbott keeps schools closed, reopens state parks, allows retail-to-go, loosens some medical restrictions

April 17, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott keeps Texas classrooms closed for remainder of school year

April 17, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott relaxes ban on nonessential medical procedures, but says courts will decide if abortions can proceed

“Ultimately, obviously that will be a decision for courts to make,” Abbott said, adding, that an allowance for abortion is “not part of this order. The way that the order is written is in terms of what doctors write about the type of treatment that is provided.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces team to restart the economy, loosens some restrictions

April 17, 2020

These are the Houstonians who are on Gov. Greg Abbott’s strikeforce team

Among the members, Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta, Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale and Perry Homes CEO Kathy Britton, will all be serving on the strikeforce team as their special advisory council members working alongside medical advisors in guiding the Governor to safely reopen Texas in phases. The team will be led by retired COO of Hilltop Holdings James Huffines and veteran lobbyist Mike Toomey.

Click2Houston.com on April 17, 2020

April 18, 2020

Gov. Abbott outlines phase 2 plans for reopening day cares, bars, recreational businesses and sports

Abbott said the reality is that coronavirus still exists in Texas and if the reopening process is going to succeed, people have to find ways to coexist with the virus.

Click2Houston.com on April 18, 2020

April 21, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott will deploy the Texas National Guard to operate coronavirus testing sites

April 21, 2020

There are nearly 500,000 jobs available in Texas right now, Abbott says. Here’s how to find one.

Abbott said that other than the loss of life, the biggest impact of the state has been the blow to livelihoods. Millions of Texans have filed for unemployment. Around 1.5 million, or about 80% of those claims have been filled and $1.4 billion have been paid out. The state is working to address the remaining 20% quickly, Abbott said.

Click2Houston.com on April 21, 2020

April 22, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott announces stay home order to expire Thursday, some businesses to reopen Friday

April 27, 2020

Mayor Turner responds to Gov. Abbott’s announcement of a phased reopening of Texas

April 27, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says Harris County can’t impose fine over face mask order

“We strongly recommend that everyone wear a mask,” Abbott said at a press conference where he announced his plans for reopening Texas. “However, it's not a mandate. And we make clear that no jurisdiction can impose any type of penalty or fine.”

“My executive order, it supersedes local orders, with regard to any type of fine or penalty for anyone not wearing a mask,” he added.

Hidalgo’s order, which carries a penalty of up to $1,000, drew harsh criticism from GOP officials and members of law enforcement. The measure is similar to those ordered by other local officials, such as those in Austin and Dallas.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 27, 2020

April 27, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to let restaurants, movie theaters and malls open with limited capacity May 1

"Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to begin rebuilding the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans,” he said.

The previous stay-at-home order "has done its job to slow the growth of COVID-19," Abbott said.

“Now it’s time to set a new course, a course that responsibly opens up business in Texas,” Abbott said.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 27, 2020

April 27, 2020

Harris County judge says she will amend mask order to conform with Gov. Abbott’s order. See how other local leaders reacted

April 27, 2020

Will I be fined for not wearing a mask in Harris County? Here’s what Gov. Abbott says

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s order that required all residents over the age of 10 to wear face masks in public will now not carry a $1,000 fine, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Click2Houston.com on April 27, 2020

April 28, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott ends self-quarantine mandate for travelers from Louisiana

“Any mandatory self-quarantine already in effect as a result of these executive orders, to the extent applicable to travelers from the City of New Orleans or the State of Louisiana, is terminated immediately” as of Friday, Abbott’s latest order says.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 28, 2020

April 30, 2020

Texas reports record coronavirus deaths the day before stores open. But Gov. Greg Abbott sees hope in other metrics.

The governor, however, is looking at a completely different set of numbers when it comes to tracking the pandemic in Texas, fueling optimism for him and his pandemic advisers even as anxiety rises beyond his circle about the reopening process.

As he makes decisions about how quickly to restart the Texas economy, Abbott has zeroed in on two figures: the state’s infection rate — the ratio of positive cases to tests conducted — and the hospitalization rate — the proportion of infected Texans who are requiring hospitalization. Both rates have generally trended downward since high points in the first half of April.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on April 30, 2020


May 2, 2020

Hidalgo signs new stay-home, work-safe order for businesses not permitted to reopen by Abbott

May 5, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott to allow Texas hair salons to reopen Friday and gyms to open May 18

Since he announced those the initial business reopenings last week, Abbott has faced increasing pressure from some in his own party to also give the green light to barbershops and gyms. Earlier Tuesday, two Republican state representatives defied Abbott’s wishes by getting haircuts at a Houston-area salon.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on May 5, 2020

May 5, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott, state health officials give update on state’s testing capabilities for COVID-19

May 5, 2020

These are Gov. Abbott’s new guidelines for weddings and funerals in Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued some clarifications Tuesday to the executive order he signed last week for the phased reopening of Texas.

Click2Houston.com on May 5, 2020

May 5, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott announces modifications to executive order, allows hair salons to reopen Friday

He attributed the “positive results” in Texas to the fact that people were social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and sanitizing.

Click2Houston.com on May 5, 2020

May 6, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reportedly says in recorded phone call that reopening state will increase coronavirus spread

"How do we know reopening businesses won't result in the faster spread and more cases of COVID-19? Listen, the fact of the matter is, pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening – whether you want to call it a reopening of business or just a reopening of society in the aftermath of something like this -- that it actually will lead to an increase in spread," Abbott says in the recording. "It's almost ipso facto. The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility there is for transmission. The goal never has been to get transmission of COVID-19 down to zero.”

“It never can be to keep transmission down to zero because there’s always going to be with a rapidly transmittable disease like this, there will always be a level of transmission,” Abbott added.

Click2Houston.com on May 6, 2020

May 7, 2020

Abbott modifies executive orders for reopening to remove jail time for violators

May 7, 2020

Abbott announces new fund that will provide financial assistance to struggling Texans

May 11, 2020

All Texas nursing home residents, staff to be tested for coronavirus after White House recommendation, Abbott says

May 14, 2020

Tensions rise as Gov. Greg Abbott readies to lift more rules

May 14, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott is cracking down on cities’ enforcement of COVID-19 orders, but many already took a lax approach

The erratic pattern foreshadows the struggles cities and counties now face as they interpret an entirely new set of regulations on reopening. That’s further complicated as enforcement has become a political hot-button issue across Texas and the U.S. Abbott, a Republican, has repeatedly changed his guidance as his party base grows more agitated.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott expected to announce more reopening plans for Texas on Monday

May 18, 2020

Weren’t daycares in Texas already open? This is what Abbott’s ruling means for all child care centers.

Daycare and childcare centers can open “effective immediately” according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Click2Houston.com on May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas ranks high in coronavirus recoveries, but many large states don’t report that figure

In explaining his cautious optimism about Texas’ response to the novel coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott has often honed in on one cheery-sounding figure: The number of Texans he says have recovered from the virus, which, he boasts, tops that of almost every other state.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on May 18, 2020

May 20, 2020

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott instructs state agencies to trim budgets by 5% to prepare for ‘economic shock’

“We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation, and business creation,” the letter from the three officials reads. “However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on May 20, 2020

May 21, 2020

Gov. Abbott allows Texas bars to reopen at 25% capacity starting Friday

May 21, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott lifts coronavirus restrictions for travelers from New York, Georgia and other hot spots

Gov. Greg Abbott lifted air travel restrictions into Texas for those coming from states and major cities that have been considered COVID-19 hot spots. The change will take effect immediately, Abbott announced Thursday.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on May 21, 2020

May 26, 2020

Texas water parks, food courts and other services can begin reopening this week, Gov. Abbott announces

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that even more businesses can reopen this week, as part of his second phase of reopening Texas businesses after the coronavirus pandemic caused a worldwide economic roadblock.

Click2Houston.com on May 26, 2020

May 27, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says Amarillo has ‘turned a corner’ after coronavirus flare-up

May 28, 2020

Texas will extend early voting period this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott says

May 28, 2020

Texas sports fans will soon be allowed to attend outdoor pro games, Gov. Greg Abbott says

May 29, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on death of George Floyd, coronavirus response

He talked about how he felt after watching the video of George Floyd’s death. And the governor also delivered promising news, about the coronavirus fight, and reopening Texas.

Click2Houston.com on May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020

‘Write This Down’: Greg Abbott and George Strait team up for the most Texan PSA about washing your hands

May 31, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott extends social distancing guidelines, school closures amid coronavirus pandemic


June 1, 2020

Houston sports this week: Abbott says fans can attend outdoor events but MLB is still in limbo

Last week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state would allow fans at outdoor sporting events, but limiting capacity to 25%. If the Astros ever get back to playing, the law would allow fans to watch baseball in person. Same goes with the Houston Texans, which could fill 25 percent of NRG Stadium at Texans home games.

Click2Houston.com on June 1, 2020

June 3, 2020

Phase 3 of reopening Texas allows all businesses to reopen at 50% beginning Wednesday, Abbott says

Abbott said the new positive COVID-19 cases are largely the result of “isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails and meatpacking plants.”

Between May 26 and June 2, more than 45% of new cases came from jails or prisons, meatpacking plants and nursing homes, according to the news release.

“Thanks to the effectiveness of our Surge Response Teams, we have the ability to contain those hot spots while opening up Texas for business,” Abbott said in the release. “As we begin Phase III, I ask all Texans and Texas businesses to continue following the standard health protocols and to heed the guidance of our state and federal officials who continue to closely monitor COVID-19. If we remain vigilant, we will continue to mitigate the spread of this virus, protect public health, and get more Texans back to work and their daily activities.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

Almost all Texas business are allowed to open at 50% capacity, Gov. Greg Abbott says

"The people of Texas continue to prove that we can safely and responsibly open our state for business while containing COVID-19 and keeping our state safe," Abbott said in a statement.

While the number of cases continues to rise in Texas, Abbott emphasized that the new cases are “largely the result of isolated hot spots in nursing homes, jails, and meat packing plants.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 3, 2020

June 12, 2020

With coronavirus cases climbing, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says ‘no real need’ to scale back business reopenings

With the number of people hospitalized for the new coronavirus continuing to climb in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday that there’s “no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 12, 2020

June 15, 2020

Abbott says Texas has ‘abundant’ capacity as more coronavirus patients are hospitalized

June 16, 2020

Mayor Turner, 8 other mayors ask Gov. Abbott for power to impose face mask rules

The mayors of nine of Texas’ biggest cities, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, urged Gov. Greg Abbott in a letter Tuesday to grant them the “authority to set rules and regulations” mandating face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

Abbott blames 20-somethings for some of the latest increases in coronavirus cases

June 18, 2020

Texas students will return to school campuses this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott tells lawmakers

June 21, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott says he supports making alcohol-to-go sales permanent in Texas

June 22, 2020

Gov. Abbott urges voluntary measures to curb coronavirus but says closing Texas is ‘last option’

June 23, 2020

‘It’s spreading’: Texas hits 5,000 new virus cases in single day for first time, Abbott says

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott stressed that the public “comprehend the magnitude of the challenge” ahead and, in a first since Texas lifted lockdown orders in May, empowered cities and counties to immediately put tighter restrictions on large gatherings.

Associated Press on Click2Houston.com on June 23, 2020

June 23, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott recommends Texans stay home as coronavirus cases surge

June 23, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott expands ability of local mayors, county judges to place restrictions on outdoor gatherings of over 100 people

Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has expanded the ability of mayors and county judges to place restrictions on outdoor gatherings of over 100 people.

Click2Houston.com on June 23, 2020

June 23, 2020

Coronavirus patients crowd some Texas ICUs as Gov. Greg Abbott touts ‘abundant’ hospital capacity

The governor struck a newly urgent tone Monday in a televised press conference to say COVID-19 was “spreading at an unacceptable rate” and that multiple metrics to gauge the virus’ spread and severity had significantly increased. Epidemiologists have attributed upticks in infections and hospitalizations to changes in behavior, including lax mask use and less social distancing.

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 23, 2020

June 25, 2020

Gov. Abbott calls for ‘temporary pause’ in ‘Reopening Texas’ effort, citing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

June 25, 2020

Abbott suspends elective surgeries in Harris, 3 other Texas counties over fears of COVID-19 hospitalization surge

June 25, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott keeps businesses open despite surging coronavirus cases and rising deaths in Texas

Texans have already shown that we “don’t have to choose between jobs and health — we can have both,” Abbott said this week. “We can protect Texans’ lives while also restoring their livelihoods.”

As cases surge, the question has become: How many Texans’ lives?

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 25, 2020

June 26, 2020

Gov. Abbott issues order to close bars at noon after spike in COVID-19 cases; restaurants to reduce capacity

June 26, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott answers questions about closing bars, reopening schools and the coronavirus surge in Texas

June 26, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott expresses regret over reopening Texas bars during coronavirus

June 26, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas bars to close again and restaurants to reduce to 50% occupancy as coronavirus spreads

June 29, 2020

Texas city and county leaders ask Gov. Greg Abbott for authority to implement local stay-at home orders

Abbott for the first time publicly expressed regret over his decision to let bars reopen, saying in an evening interview with KVIA in El Paso that the “bar setting, in reality, just doesn’t work with a pandemic.”

Texas Tribune on Click2Houston.com on June 29, 2020

June 30, 2020

Gov. Abbott announces $9M in federal funding to combat COVID-19 in Texas nursing homes

June 30, 2020

Gov. Greg Abbott bans elective surgeries in four South Texas counties to preserve hospital capacity


July 7, 2020

‘They do absolutely nothing:’ Gov. Greg Abbott blasts local leaders for inaction to enforce current orders

July 7, 2020

Gov. Abbott answers questions about masks in schools, what it would take to shut the state again, GOP convention in Houston and more

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.