Piece of Mind: Governor Issues Long-Awaited Order to Stay at Home

Apr 2, 2020

By John Kanelis

I suppose you could accuse Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of being a bit slow on the uptake in his statewide response to the coronavirus pandemic.

I will not join that chorus. 

Gov. Abbott today issued a stay-at-home order for Texans. Don't leave the house except to purchase essential items, such as food, fuel and assorted necessary household items. We can venture outside, walk around the neighborhood but we just need to keep our distance from our neighbors. The order lasts at least until the end of April. 

There likely will be a decision soon on whether public schools will open on May 4, which the governor set as the return date for millions of students and their teachers. I am getting close to being able to bet the farm that Abbott will close the schools for the remainder of the academic year. A May 4 return date -- at this moment, with the cases of COVID-19 still skyrocketing -- seems far too early.

Only 10 states are left that haven't issued the kind of order that came from Austin today. Perhaps they, too, will join the rest of the country. It well might be that the federal government will issue a nationwide order, pulling everyone off the street and closeting all Americans in their homes. I'm OK with that order if it comes.

So far, the nation's response has been a bit of a hodge-podge of reaction, depending on the state or the county or the individual community. My wife and I live in a city, Princeton, that doesn't to my knowledge have any known cases of COVID-19.

However, I did get a chilling response from Farmersville Police Chief Michael Sullivan, who I interviewed for a story I am working on for the Farmersville Times. He said local officials depend on information released by county health officials, which does not account for those who might be carrying the virus but who haven't yet been tested by public health authorities.

This story is far from showing signs of letting up. I am going to applaud Gov. Abbott for stepping up the state's response, even if he was a bit slow to take action. 

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.