During a private call on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott admitted that “every scientific and medical report shows” state reopenings “ipso facto” lead to an increase in novel coronavirus cases, even as he publicly announced plans that same week to end an executive stay-at-home order in the state.
“How do we know reopening businesses won’t result in faster spread of more cases of COVID-19?” Abbott asked during a Friday afternoon phone call with members of the state legislature and Congress. “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 businesses or of just a reopening of society—in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”
“The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission,” Abbott said on the call, which a spokesperson confirmed was authentic on Tuesday. “The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero.”
The audio was recorded by somebody on the call, and a clip of it was sent to The Daily Beast on Tuesday. It was first reported by state political site Quorum Report, which noted that Abbott’s public statements so far have largely only mentioned that Texas may see an increase in the numbers due to increased testing capacity, rather than increased contact. Though Abbott has repeatedly said in public interviews that reopening “can” or “could” cause a spike in cases, the audio recording from last Friday’s call appeared to show a more direct and certain understanding of the risks.