NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — The State of Texas is already planning for people here to go back to work – but doing so safely. Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told CBS 11 Political Reporter Jack Fink what that could look like and when.

Abbott said that right now, the state is working aggressively on programs that will get Texans back to work. “I know people at home want to see that done,” said Abbott. “We’re working on very aggressive strategies to make sure Texas is first at getting back to work.”

But Abbott said the state still has more work to do in the coming weeks before that can happen. “It would be premature to open up all the doors to businesses right now and to basically blow what we’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past month to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus,” Abbott continued.

Coronavirus In Texas: Dallas County ‘Getting Close To Flattening The Curve’ Governor Says

When asked if he saw the effort to get back to work as a ‘phased-in’ release of some restrictions, Abbott said, “The way you just articulated it is along the lines of what’s being discussed at the White House right now,” said Abbott. “Some types of standards, whether it be distancing practices or other hygiene-type practices [would be enacted] so that people are able to interact, but in a way that does not reintroduce the spread of the Coronavirus.”

The Governor said the state is also planning to continue an enhanced program of testing people for COVID-19 even after people go back to work.

Asked how long he anticipated the continued testing to go on Abbott said, “Well, probably at least through the remainder of this year because it will be necessary really up until the time we see a vaccine go into place.”

The Governor says a vaccine may not be available until this time next year.

Full Text And Video Of Interview:

Jack Fink, CBS 11
Governor Abbott, thank you so much for your time. Yesterday, Dr. Hellerstedt said that this it was too early to say when Texas would peak. Do you have any better ideas today when that would be?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, listen, we constantly follow the data, both the data that we see provided in the state of Texas as well as the data provided by the federal government. That data continues to show good trends. The important thing, Jack is to make sure that we continue these trends because we’ve seen — whether it be in New York or Italy, wherever — you can have a trend that looks like it may start flattening out, only to rise again. And so there’s really only one thing that we can control right now and that is that we can continue to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus by everyone doing their best to foll ow the stay-at-home policies unless you were involved in essential services.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
Yesterday you mentioned that the White House had specific concerns about the Houston area. My question to you is what is the state’s assessment of the Dallas Fort Worth area as far as number of cases and all of North Texas?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, in North Texas — and primarily, I’ve been following Dallas County a little bit more closely — the numbers I see in Dallas County are getting close to flattening out a little bit. But again, that would be an advanced call, a premature call, to make any type of definitive statement about that. We need to continue to monitor it and make sure that people continue to follow good decision practices. We’ve seen a slight rise in Tarrant County and some other areas, but some of these may be one-off type situations. Again, there’s going to be fluctuations over the coming days. The place in the state of Texas however that is experiencing the greatest number of cases is Houston and — last night Fort Bend county — which is connected to Houston. And so those are areas of specific concern right now.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
A lot of people are starting to ask about getting back to work. And my question to you is what does that look like in your mind and in the state’s mind?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, listen, we are working very aggressively as we speak on programs to get Texas back to working again. I know people at home want to see that done. I want to see that done. We’re working on very aggressive strategies to make sure that Texas is first in getting back to work and doing so very aggressively. However, again, it would be premature to open up all the doors to business right now, and to basically blow what we’ve worked so hard to achieve over the past month to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. We still have more work to do in the coming weeks. If we are successful in maintaining our discipline and controlling the spread of the Coronavirus that will enhance our ability to open up businesses.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
Do you see this as a ‘phased-in’ release of some of your restrictions? In other words while people may be able to get back to work, there would still be some social distancing protocols in place?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
The way you just articulated it is along the lines of what’s being discussed at the white house right now. So there are discussions among economic policy advisors, as well as the health advisors to find ways that we can begin to open the doors to business while also maintaining control of the spread of Coronavirus. And that likely will involve — kind of what you were suggesting — some types of standards, whether it be distancing practices or other hygiene-type practices, so that people are able to interact… but in a way that does not reintroduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
And does that mean that people are really going to have to be very vigilant about their interactions, even after people are allowed back at work.

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
So the end game, of course, for all of this would be a vaccine. But before we have a vaccine, yes, people are going to have to be disciplined and vigilant in the way they go about their daily activities. It will not be everyone all at once. But there’s another component to this that the state is working on as we speak. And that is to create what I call a healthcare infrastructure, so that we can provide enhanced ongoing testing and do a good job of identifying those who test positive, isolate those so we can reduce the spread and allow the others to continue to go up go about the process of re-engaging in the workforce.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
And how long do you anticipate that healthcare infrastructure you’re talking about the continued testing to go on for?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, probably at least through the remainder of this year, because it will be necessary, really up until the time until we see a vaccine go into place. I haven’t heard any discussion — talk about a vaccine being available — before the end of this year, more likely about this time next year.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
And as far as the year is concerned, as you know, schools are not allowed to reopen through May 4 and a lot of parents are wondering, should they just start planning for the fact that they won’t be going back this school year to the schools.

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
We will be sitting down with Mike Morath, the Commissioner for the Texas Education Agency next week to talk about what the path forward looks like. So we’ll look at the ongoing incoming data, talk to the doctors about it and talk to leaders in Washington DC and get their thoughts about it and then decide what is the best path for education in Texas for the remainder of the school year.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
As you know, Easter Sunday is coming up just a few days away. And I know you had put out your guidelines for churches to follow. As you know, we’re in the big Dallas Fort Worth area. Is it safe to assume that in-church services are really for the outlying areas, rural areas where they’re very small congregations where the proper social distancing can be maintained?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, it is my assumption that all church leaders want to do everything they can to make sure that their members are not exposed to COVID-19 and not transmitting COVID-19. The last thing that these church leaders would want to have happen is to have an outbreak of COVID-19 within their church, especially those who may be categorized as seniors. And so, what I’m expecting is that these churches will follow the best practices, whether it be providing services online or through video, or audio or through these drive up strategies where people will stay in their vehicles and not get out and not expose themselves to anybody else. There’s all kinds of innovative strategies that we’re seeing by churches — just like what we’ve seen with regard to restaurants. This is the time when innovation can alter and be innovative about the way they deliver their traditional services.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
And I did want to ask you about the unemployment benefits — the situation with the Texas Workforce Commission. I know you’ve added hundreds of staff… has the state considered doing a 24 hour, seven-day-a-week operation to accommodate all those who are needing to file?

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
The last time I checked, which is a couple of days ago, there actually was a 24 hour process where people at least online would be able to apply 24 hours a day. But yeah, expanded hours, all options and strategies are on the table to make sure that we clear out this backlog with regard to unemployment benefits claims. The important thing I would like your viewers to know, is two things: 1) is that regardless of when you apply, you will receive your full unemployment benefits and then 2) the amount of your benefits are actually going to be far greater than what you may have been expecting based upon past history because of the additional money that’s been provided by Congress to make sure that you will get more money for a longer period of time for your unemployment benefits.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
And I did want to ask, I’ve noticed on the State’s website, the State Health Department Services website, there is a lot more information now as far as not only the number of people who are hospitalized, but also — a new addition was — how many people have recovered. How important was that for you to make sure that the state is getting this information out? The public wants it… we’re hearing from the public, and they want this information out there.

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
Well, we just recently added that information for this reason, and that is for a person to qualify as having recovered, they have to have had COVID-19 and then recovered from it and be symptom free for 14 days. And so we just began reporting these numbers. And I think the number today is over 1100 people have recovered from COVID-19. And this is very important. It will be part of my daily presentation about the information that we provide now that we have good input data. But the good sign is this — and that is — we’re seeing in Texas, a high rate of people who are recovering from COVID-19. And that’s a very good sign. It proves what a lot of people need to know. And that is just because you get COVID-19 doesn’t mean that you’re going to face death. Most people do, in fact, recover from it.

Jack Fink, CBS 11
Governor Abbott Thank you so much. for your time today.

TX Gov. Greg Abbott
My pleasure. Thank you, Jack.