Gov. Abbott talks COVID-19 executive order, ill-advised spring break trip, TWC struggles and more with KXAN

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott explained his executive order and expressed his frustration with a group of people who recently took a spring break trip to Mexico during a live interview with KXAN on Wednesday.

Gov. Abbott spoke with news anchor Amanda Dugan and offered details on his executive order, which he did not refer to as a stay-at-home order, but said it was similar to most stay-at-home orders issued by local governments around Texas.

“If you’re not involved in the essential functions of government in the state of Texas, or even for the city of Austin, you need to be at home, you need to be off the streets,” Gov. Abbott said. “We have to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

Gov. Abbott said coronavirus cases have tripled in the past week.

He also said he wanted to be “more precise” with his order.

“Bottom line is that it achieves the same concept, that is unless you have to be outdoors for any reason whatsoever to survive, like getting groceries, you need to stay home,” he said.

When asked about a group of students contracting COVID-19 while on a spring break trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Gov. Abbott gave a wry smile and called the situation “frustrating.”

“I was very frustrated because we’d been working so hard as a state, and as a community, to try to reduce the spread,” Gov. Abbott said. “It’s just going to increase the number of the people in this area who test positive.”

He mentioned that troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety are patrolling highways near the Texas-Louisiana border to stop people potentially infected with COVID-19 from coming in.

“We want to avoid importing COVID-19 to the state of Texas,” he said.

Gov. Abbott responded to earlier comments made by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in a Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson, saying “people his age” would “take care of themselves,” and the pandemic shouldn’t hold up the economy any longer.

“When he with joined me the other day during the announcement of the new executive order, he stepped up and agreed precisely with what my standards are, and that is putting public health and safety first of all Texans,” Gov. Abbott said.

The struggles of the Texas Workforce Commission handling the influx of unemployment benefits claims have kept people from applying, let alone receiving, their benefits in a timely fashion. Gov. Abbott assured people they’ll get through to TWC if they just keep trying.

“We’re improving on a daily basis,” Gov. Abbott said. “We’ve brought in hundreds of employees, whether we hired them or they were transferred from other departments. We are processing these claims faster, and just because your claim hasn’t been approved yet, doesn’t mean it will get denied.”

He said that some people will get more benefits than they may have previously thought due to federal government stimulus money, and it’ll extend farther into the future.

“Just keep calling, keep trying to get in, and you’ll get your benefits,” Gov. Abbott said.

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