Four Days

If you’re like me, you’re tired of being at home! We all want to get out and most importantly, we all want to see all businesses reopened as quickly as possible, so all Texans can get back to work. Unfortunately, I fear Governor Abbott’s confusing, haphazard and disorganized plan is doing more harm than good.

Phase 1 of Abbott’s plan went into effect Friday. He said retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters could operate at 25% capacity. This was to be followed by a phase 2 that would go into effect no sooner than May 18th — once there was a couple of weeks of data and the state had determined that it is safe to move forward with increased occupancy rates and allowing additional types of businesses to open.

With Dallas County reporting its highest single-day increase with 237 new positive COVID-19 cases just three days following the start of phase 1 and Friday Tarrant County reporting 144 new positive cases, the data didn’t seem to be heading in the right direction.

I guess the Governor has information we’re just not privy to, because four days [read: not two weeks] after phase 1 took effectGovernor Abbott jumped ahead to phase 2.

So, starting tomorrow, swimming pools; barber shops; hair, nail and tanning salons will be permitted to open. On May 18th, gyms and other workout facilities will be added to that list, and as of Tuesday, outdoor seating at restaurants don’t have to comply with the 25 percent capacity rule.

There’s no other way to say it — these are dangerous decisions that will result in a spike in cases and more people getting sick.

Yesterday, I was on a call with local leaders and the discussion turned to whether or not these decisions could be reversed if there’s a spike in cases. In response, a public health expert said, “it will be very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.” He’s right. Unfortunately, there’s likely no turning back.

The premature nature of these decisions is coupled with the fact that there are few requirements that businesses must follow to keep employees and customers protected. Abbott’s plan lists only “minimum recommended” guidelines for cleaning, personal protection equipment (PPE) and other safety precautions. Because his executive order preempts local decision-making, cities’ and counties’ hands are tied and they can no longer do things like require people to wear masks. It’s a shame, because it will be the cities and counties and their public health departments that will absorb much of the impact when we see an increase in positive tests.

To be clear, I want everything reopened as soon as possible.

I am, however, opposed to doing so in a rushed and haphazard way, without the data trending in the right direction, before we have adequate testing and contact tracing in place, and before addressing the need for more PPE.

Yes, we may now be permitted to eat out, go to a movie and get a haircut. All of which sound pretty wonderful after nearly two months of staying at home.

Unfortunately, it’s too soon when the virus is still spreading quickly. For the safety of others and ourselves, let’s continue to stay home as much as possible.