Governor Greg Abbott held his Monday news conference in the press conference room adjoining the governor’s Capitol office.
The first part consisted of a Zoom call with John Waldron, the president and COO of Goldman Sachs, and Janie Barrera, president of CEO of LiftFund, at which they announced that Goldman Sachs, in cooperation with LiftFund and other community development financial institutions, will be providing $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas affected by COVID-19 as part of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. The loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, will mostly be aimed at continuing to pay employees until their employers can restart or revive their business, shuttered or diminished by government-mandated efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The loans will either be partially or wholly forgiven.
The loans are intended to keep these small businesses and their employees intact until the business can reopen and regain lost revenues.
The LiftFund is a non-profit organization, headquartered in San Antonio, that helps small business owners with limited access to capital.
A few small business owners who stand to benefit from the program were on the Zoom call.
After the Zoom call, Abbott followed up with some comments and took questions.
Abbott said he intends to outline in far greater detail later this week his plan for slowly and deliberately reopening the Texas economy in ways that will vary based on the type of business and perhaps also its location. He said that will be done in a manner that will be consistent with protecting the public health and continuing practices that contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor was asked about the comment Sunday by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, that the economy in parts of the country could have a “rolling reentry” as early as May, if health authorities are prepared to quickly identify and isolate infected individuals.
“Do you have that capacity at this point and what is your optimism about managing that?” Abbott was asked.
“So, importantly, because of the medical advice that we will be getting for the team that will be involved in the slow process of reopening Texas back up for business, we will ensure that a component of that will include adequate testing,” Abbott said.
“Right before I came in here today. I was on an hour-long conference call with the Vice President, with Dr. (Deborah) Birx (the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator) going over the very issue you are talking about, which is the strategic and necessary testing that is needed to safely reopen the state for doing business. They were talking about the amount of testing supplies and testing strategies that would be best to use for that process. And those will be issues that we will go over in more detail.”
Abbott said he had spoken with President Donald Trump as well as Vice President over the weekend.
“We maintain constant contact with the White House,” Abbott said. “The White House team has been communicating with governors for weeks now. And so they’ve been preparing us for what to expect and what to anticipate and talking about the way in which we will all be working in collaboration to ensure that we will be able to slowly, strategically, smartly and safely begin to open up the expansion of economic development in the United States.”
Abbott said the White House understands that, “the states are so varied in the United States, look what may work for Nebraska may be different than what works for New York and etc. And so I think that there will be a level of flexibility for states and maybe even within a state about what type of strategy may work best, knowing that even in the state of Texas, there are certainly areas that are harder hit by the coronavirus than are others.
“And so these are all issues that we will continue to work out in the coming days before the announcement is made, but also, even once the announcement is made, we will continue to maintain flexibility based on the level of containment of COVID-19.”
This pool report is by Jonathan Tilove, Austin American-Statesman via the Governor’s officloe