MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Governor Greg Abbott is concerned about the Coronavirus data in the state and is ‘laser-focused on Midland-Odessa’.
That’s according to Don Evans, the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush and a current member of the Governor’s Task Force on reopening Texas, who spoke in the Unified Command meeting Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t know exactly…what the hospitalization utilization number is that he’s laser focused on, but I know he is laser focused on Midland-Odessa,” Evans said. “I also know that he is saying that if we can’t turn this trend around in the next couple weeks or so there is going to be a serious threat the economy has to be shut down again. He’s on it, he’s watching it and the trends are not what he wants to see and it is up to us to turn this around and I’m confident that we will. But this is serious. We are not kidding.”
Evans says he doesn’t have the exact details or the criteria Gov. Abbott is looking at to make a determination on the economy but it will depend on the day-to-day analysis by state officials.
While Evans reiterated there is currently no direct order to shut down the economy from Gov. Abbott or other state officials, the possibility is real if residents do not do their part to slow the spread of the virus.
“The bottom line is, we all have a common enemy in COVID-19 and in order to defeat this enemy we all have to be united and committed to doing what’s right and what will protect us and our economy and our fellow citizens,” Evans said. “Unless we do come together I would say…in a concerted way, in the next few hours and days, then I think it is unlikely we are going be able to keep our economy open. So I think the challenge is clear, it is in front of us it is imminent, it is right now and we have to take that challenge as I’m confident all Midlanders will. Look we all know the need of people and citizens to feed their families, small businesses to stay open to pay their employees and their rents, but all of this is in jeopardy, quite frankly, unless we do come together as a community to be good citizens and protect each other.”
Gov. Greg Abbott initiated a mask requirement last week and called it a last-ditch effort to prevent a shutdown of the economy. Additionally, the Governor has previously said shutting down the economy would always be the last resort.
The requirement was made to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as well as the hospitalizations throughout the state.
However, on Tuesday, Texas set a new record for daily confirmed cases which surged over 10,000. That number was nearly matched Wednesday with 9,979 confirmed cases.
Additionally, a new record was set for COVID-19 related fatalities this week. On Tuesday, 60 fatalities were reported in Texas. That number was then shattered on Wednesday, as 98 fatalities were recorded throughout the State. A new record for hospitalizations was also set Wednesday with 9,610.
The testing positivity rate is also at the highest level it has been since state officials began tracking the virus. The positivity rate in the state is currently at just over %15. All data is reported by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Hospitals in 11 Trauma Service Areas were also called to expand their COVID-19 capacity by suspending elective procedures, according to a release from the Governor’s office. That would include all hospitals in Ector, Midland, Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Glasscock, Howard, Jeff Davis, Loving, Martin Pecos Presidio Reeves Terrell Upton Ward, and Winkler counties.
Mayor Patrick Payton addressed the numbers calling on residents again to return to what they were doing in March and April when numbers were low; social distancing, masks, and hygiene. The Mayor said it is a sacrifice everyone must endure together and acknowledged that if changes aren’t made it could further impact the economy.
“There are really two major concerns we have here, the first one is the health of our community and the second one is the economy and the success of our community and those aren’t separate issues, they are really two sides to the same coin,” Payton said Thursday.
Evans echoed the statements from Payton saying social distancing, hygiene, and wearing a mask is vital to protecting each other and keeping the economy open.
“By joining together I think all of us can keep our economy open and our fellow citizens working,” Evans said. “I’m one that is optimistic. I’ve been through lots of challenges in Midland, Texas over the years and I’ve always seen the hearts and souls of this good community rise to the occasion and I think that is exactly what is going to happen with this challenge.”
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