GALVESTON

Galveston County likely will extend its stay-at-home order past Friday, the originally planned end date, County Judge Mark Henry said Sunday.

Sunday marked the fifth full day of the local stay-at-home order. Henry and mayors of all 12 cities in the county jointly announced the order March 23. It went into effect at 11:59 p.m. March 24.

The order strongly urges county residents to stay home and nonessential businesses to close to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It includes a long list of exemptions that have allowed people to leave their homes to shop or exercise and allow businesses to choose to stay open.

The order was to have remained in effect until April 3.

An extension of the orders seems likely because there had been no signs that social distancing efforts had slowed the number of people being infected in the county, Henry said.

“Just like everything, we’re taking it day by day, but I find it unlikely we will let them expire,” Henry said.

On the day the order was announced, 18 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Galveston County. By 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the number had increased to 70.

Galveston County Local Health Authority Philip Keiser, who is guiding the county’s response to the pandemic, said it could take weeks before the effects of the county’s orders become apparent.

“We’re not seeing the decline in numbers,” Henry said. “There’s just not been a significant drop in numbers.”

The stay-at-home order is not the only precaution reaching a deadline this week. Gov. Greg Abbott’s public health disaster declaration, which closed bars and restaurant dining rooms statewide, and barred social gatherings of more than 10 people, is set to end April 3.

Abbott, who spoke to Texans through a televised address Sunday, announced no changes to the original order. He did, however, say he expected new federal guidance about social distancing in coming days, and the state would use the information to make its own decisions.

On Sunday evening, President Donald Trump announced he was extending federal social distancing guidelines for another 30 days. A 15-day federal social distancing guideline was set to end on Monday.

Galveston County likely will wait for the state to make an official decision about its policies before making its own changes, Henry said.

The city of Galveston’s orders closing short-term rentals and hotels also were to expire at the end of this week.

Other precautions are of longer duration. Galveston, for instance, has canceled all events that require a city permit through the end of May.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(15) comments

Blanca Bell

When you say "no significant drop in numbers" how do you know that? Who knows what the numbers would be if there was no stay at home order.

It has to be working or else why are we staying home and all is shut down?

Wayne D Holt

Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say? – Two Stanford Professors Speak Out

March 24, 2020, Wall Street Journal

Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate—2% to 4% ... according to the World Health Organization and others. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. There’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases. The latter rate is misleading because of selection bias in testing. The degree of bias ... could make the difference between an epidemic that kills 20,000 and one that kills two million [in the U.S.].

First, the test used to identify cases doesn’t catch people who were infected and recovered. Second, testing rates were woefully low for a long time and typically reserved for the severely ill. Together, these facts imply that the confirmed cases are likely orders of magnitude less than the true number of infections. Epidemiological modelers haven’t adequately adapted their estimates to account for these factors.

This does not make Covid-19 a nonissue. The daily reports from Italy and across the U.S. show real struggles and overwhelmed health systems. But a 20,000- or 40,000-death epidemic is a far less severe problem than one that kills two million. Given the enormous consequences of decisions around Covid-19 response, getting clear data to guide decisions now is critical.

We don’t know the true infection rate in the U.S. If we’re right about the limited scale of the epidemic, then measures focused on older populations and hospitals are sensible. A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health.

Note: Authors Dr. Bendavid and Dr. Bhattacharya are professors of medicine at Stanford.

Wayne D Holt

While I want to thank Judge Henry for a principled initial questioning of his authority to act, it has been difficult, I am sure, to stand against the gale force winds of statistical confusion and panic-driven hysteria that has gripped many in our country.

Judge Henry: Please understand that much of what has been put out to the public is already being revised. Much of what was broadcast as fact was anything but. Many of the comparisons to New York City ignore their antiquated and underbuilt healthcare infrastructure; we're not the Bronx.

It is time to replace "an abundance of caution" with "preponderance of EVIDENCE." It's OK to overshoot when you are just increasing the chances of more healthy people. When those decisions are throwing thousands out of work, collapsing entire industries and undermining a system of global interdependence we need to stay alive, it is past time to demand those who are making extreme demands based on the flimsiest of data, much of it old and irrelevant to our present condition, be replaced with people who can be objective and balance a medical situation with an economic one that can spin out of control quickly if we don't come to our senses soon.

Dan Freeman

President Trump retreated Sunday from his earlier hope to get the country back to normal by Easter and extended federal guideline urging social distancing through April 30, citing figures from his advisers that showed that as many as 200,000 people could die from the virus even if the country took aggressive action to slow its spread.

Carlos Ponce

" from his advisers that showed that as many as 200,000 people could die" The good doctor who gave that number, Dr. Anthony Fauci, asked viewers not to hold him to that number. He added, "We’re going to have millions of (confirmed coronavirus) cases. But I just don't think we really need to make a projection when it's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people."

Jim Forsythe

3/30/2020

White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Monday said U.S. deaths from the illness will eventually reach between 100,000 and 200,000, even if Americans continue to comply with stringent social distancing guidelines.

“If we do things together well, almost perfectly, we could get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities,” Birx said. “The best-case scenario would be 100 percent of Americans doing precisely what is required. But we’re not sure, based on… seeing these pictures, that all of America is responding in a uniform way to protect one another.”

Chuck DiFalco

"doing precisely what is required" according to whom? Her? And how shall we obey?

"I'm concerned about the number of people who are eager to hand their rights over to the government." --Genevieve McDonald, State House Representative, Maine, March 2020.

Jim Forsythe

"doing precisely what is required" is the guidelines that most Americain are following. If you do not know what they are, you are not paying attention or you just do not think the guidelines are important.

But I'm guessing that you are not going to agree with the guidelines set by CDC no matter what. People that do not follow the guidelines, will be the reason this will escalate to more than it has to be.

Chuck DiFalco

Mr. Forsythe, you're accusing me of "But I'm guessing that you are not going to agree with the guidelines set by CDC no matter what." Have you been reading my dozens of posts in the last week? Judging by your response, I don't think you have. Have I ever mentioned the CDC? They have no executive authority. I recommend you educate yourself on what I've been saying.

Wayne D Holt

We lost about 53,000 Americans in the 2017-18 flu season and you have to dig to even find a mention of it. Those are known fatalities, not projected. We also know that the numbers coming from the prestigious Imperial College of London's epidemiological studies reduced the projected UK deaths by 98% in just the past ten days. Those same models were used to project US fatalities.

Here is where an abundance of caution is taking the US as I'm typing this:

ABC News reported, “One in three Americans say they or an immediate family member have been laid off or lost their job as a result of the pandemic, and more – half – report a cut in pay or work hours.” (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/report-job-loss-half-pay-cut-coronavirus-crisis/story?id=69811808)

Furloughs. Pay cuts. Layoffs. Last week was just the beginning. From Feb 2008 to Feb 2010, the economy lost 8.6mm jobs. We just lost 3.28mm in one week. It wasn’t until December 2008 that the economy had lost the same amount of jobs it lost last week. Consensus forecasts are for another 3mm+ this week.

The US economy is likely to lose more jobs in three weeks than it lost during the entire financial crisis.

When people start hijacking food deliveries because they have no food on the table for their family we will see where the idea of an economic Get Out Of Jail Free Card has taken us.

Jim Forsythe

Wayne, once this has passed, jobs will start returning. As with these types of events in the past, things will get better.

This is why they increased the amount of unemployment and waved the waiting period. Food banks are set up to take care of food needs.

3,180 deaths and increasing at a fast rate in the USA.

Chuck DiFalco

"once this has passed, jobs will start returning" How do you know that? This sounds like an empty promise of Herbert Hoover ("the tide has turned") while the Great Depression was deepening. If the lockdowns across the country are lifted in time, most jobs will return. If the lockdowns across the country last too long, Depression 2.0 will ensure that tens of millions of jobs will not return for the lifetimes of the people who lost them. Again, how far can America bend before it breaks? If we find out, it will be too late to prevent a poverty pandemic. Government handouts do not create wealth for businesses and people to sustain themselves.

Jim Forsythe

After the Great Depression, many safeguards have been put in place. We have no Great Dustbowl to depress the farmers raising crops.

We were in line for a stock correction and paired with an oil glut, prices were pushed down. Oil will rebound and stocks will level out at a price equal to what is their true value. Gyms will open, Restaurants, bars, barbers shops,. beauty shops and such will open with the help of the small business department which they have announced how they will help. Bussiness will come back, maybe with a different owner, but will need employees.

People that did not buy a vehicle during this time, but needed one, will buy one. Houses will start selling again.

You keep talking about Depression 2.0, what are the factors that will make it so? If it's unemployment, that will pass.

Chuck DiFalco

"If it's unemployment, that will pass" No, it won't if 50 million people are laid off in a short period of time. Here's some articles for you to read for starters. I don't have time to reference 50 more. But it's just beginning:

the “Shark Tank” host estimates that a majority of her investments will fail to make it through the slowdown

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/barbara-corcoran-says-majority-of-her-shark-tank-companies-wont-make-it-through-coronavirus-trough-120214825.html

“You can’t just bring the economy to a standstill and expect people to survive,”

https://www.galvnews.com/news/free/article_22dfc0a6-8633-54e1-9b93-3da40f83e337.html

"small businesses like hers can bear, at most, about 60 days of government restrictions and social distancing before many start disappearing"

https://www.galvnews.com/news/free/article_f02fd461-dd96-5ef2-bc50-858efc85a74d.html

"the majority of businesses will run out of money long before SBA loans, or financial assistance, can be provided"

https://realinvestmentadvice.com/macroview-the-fed-cant-fix-whats-broken/

Jim Forsythe

We made it through 9/11 and the recession of 2009 and we will make it this time. Some businesses will not be able to hang on, but others will take their place. The relief package includes 2 Trillion plus an additional 4 Trillion if needed to get us back on track.

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban offers guidance to small businesses struggling through the coronavirus pandemic."They're terrified," Cuban said. "Business has dried up from doing great last month or two months ago to almost nothing. And that's terrifying to anybody who's ever started a business. "I've been in that circumstance before ... but there are things that you can do to really try to turn a huge negative into a positive," he added.

1. Communicate with stakeholders-Cuban encouraged small business owners to utilize the time to communicate with employees, suppliers, and customers because "they have time and they're concerned as well."

2. Get ahead of the game--Every small business has areas in which they can improve, Cuban said.

3. Stay informed on federal economic relief efforts --About the historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, $367 billion of which is allocated to assist small businesses Cuban said.

"If you're a CEO or an entrepreneur that owns your own business right now, you need to be up to speed immediately," Cuban said.

"If you keep your employees if you have fewer than 500 employees and you commit to retain all your employees, the government's going to pay their salary," he explained.

Cuban called the program "unprecedented," and encouraged business owners to call their local banks and inquire about "exactly what it takes for you to become part of this program."

"There will be new products developed that really change the world," Cuban continued. "That's who we are as a country. And that's why, as bleak as it can seem right now, and is horrific and tragic ... we'll get to the other side, I'm 100 percent certain and we'll be different when we get there."

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