MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – On Thursday, officials with Midland Health, along with Mayor Patrick Payton and County Judge Terry Johnson warned of the risks of fully reopening the economy.
Currently, there are 37 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Midland. Most recently, cases have been confirmed at two local nursing homes.
The conversation began after Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said an announcement would be made Friday regarding the jumpstart of the Texas economy.
“This is not going to be a ‘rush the gates, everybody is able to suddenly reopen all at once,’” Abbott said in a news conference on Monday. “We have to understand that we must reopen in a way in which we are able to stimulate the economy while at the very same time ensuring that we contain the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Larry Wilson, Chief Medical Officer with Midland Health, stressed that the risk is still present in the Permian Basin and beyond. The pandemic is ongoing and talks of re-opening the economy should not be taken as a sign of control over the pandemic.
“I think we all recognize the importance of doing that (reopening the economy), but I think it is very very important that we remember, this is not some kind of validation that we have the virus under control,” Dr. Wilson said. “We still have a viral pandemic going on and it remains a serious threat to all of our citizens, particularly the aged and vulnerable.”
The doctor acknowledged the economic crisis was “a pretty dangerous circumstance in and of itself,” but urged communities to, if the economy is in fact reopened, take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Some of the tips he gave included, wiping down surfaces consistently, using proper hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large groups.
“This is our responsibility, as we do get back to business and get back to work work, that we do it in a way that we remember those things,” Dr. Wilson said. “(We) do everything in our power to protect the vulnerable and the aged…but be cautious, careful, protective of all our citizens.”
Meanwhile, Judge Johnson and Mayor Payton say they are waiting on what Governor Abbott will announce to make a decision on what they plan for Midland will be.
However, Judge Johnson did note that the Midland Crisis team has begun working with officials in Odessa on how to go about re-opening for business.
Mayor Payton echoed the words of Governor Abbott, saying he is ready to get the economy open and moving again, but they aren’t going to rush the process.
“It’s going to be a gradual, slow process,” Payton said Thursday morning. “There is really no way we are just going to be able to just open the doors. We are working on a plan, as the Judge just talked about, on how we can bring back our economy and open our economies back up.”
Mayor Payton says they will craft their plan and ensure they are taking all of the necessary precautions.
“It will take time,” Payton said.
Since the outbreak, Governor Abbott has waived dozens of regulations and shut Texas schools down until at least May 4.
You can catch the news conference from Governor Abbott, Friday on Yourbasin.com