There has been much concern and maybe a little political gloating about rising COVID-19 cases since Texas’ decision to reopen its economy in early May.

“Seven weeks later, as the state once again closes businesses with virus cases skyrocketing and hospitals running out of intensive-care beds, Texas indeed appears to be a model: for how to squander a hopeful position through premature reopening, ignoring inconvenient data and fighting party-political turf wars,” The Guardian reported late last month.

There are several problems with the “we opened too soon” argument. For starters, too soon for what? COVID-19 never went away. Unless something miraculous happens, it will be here this month and the month after and the month after that. Most top health advisors caution a vaccine won’t be available until early next year, if we’re lucky.

Some health officials argued Texas should have waited to meet certain benchmarks — either a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over 14 days or a downward trajectory in the percentage of positive test results over 14 days.

Extracting all partisan sniping from the conversation, ask yourself this: Had Texas reopened its economy July 1 or Aug. 1 or Sept. 1, would a rise in new cases magically fail to appear? Would Harris County not face an ICU bed crisis? Probably not because it wasn’t allowing businesses to reopen and reemploy people that caused cases to spike — it was people operating under the notion we could all return to normal without safeguards and precautions.

The problem lies not with reopening the economy but in a disregard for protocols among people who either believe the COVID-19 threat has been overhyped and restrictions on civic and commercial life have been overreaching or were tuned out and thinking none of it applied to them.

People refused to wear masks, wash their hands and keep their distance as many — though not all — businesses worked to safely try to stay afloat under pandemic protocols. It could have worked had everyone worked it. It can still work.

The biggest danger to the economy and to freedom is to continue to behave under those beliefs and potentially spread COVID-19 by not wearing a mask, ignoring social distancing measures and behaving as if the virus doesn’t exist or isn’t a serious threat.

Also dangerous to the economy and freedom is to believe the government is the only thing that can save us, that we can’t act responsibly without edicts and mandates. We can save ourselves.

Hundreds of businesses are operating safely and cautiously across Galveston County. Thousands of residents are living as normally as possible, supporting those businesses, all while working to reduce spread of the virus.

We all must do our part to stop the spread and stop supplying ammunition to naysayers that Texas was wrong in trying to help its many thousands of businesses — big and small — survive this pandemic.

A vaccine is far away. The much hoped-for organized contact tracing likely won’t materialize soon enough. Asking businesses to close until it does is unreasonable and even absurd.

Do your part to keep the Texas economy and businesses open by slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Don’t make reopening the failed “Texas experiment” so many apparently hope it will be.

• Laura Elder

 Laura Elder: 409-683-5248; laura.elder@galvnews.com

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(35) comments

PD Hyatt

Not shocked that there was NO mention of all of the protesters who were out and about with no masks on....

Carlos Ponce

Those lives didn't matter.

jimmy winston

Facts don’t care about your feelings. There was no link to the protests and an increase in cases. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27408.pdf

Carlos Ponce

At least not in Georgia, Jimmy. Why? "70 coronavirus test sites were destroyed during the George Floyd protests" No tests = no increase.

https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/70-coronavirus-test-sites-were-destroyed-during-george-floyd-protests-which-us-officials-worry-could-lead-to-a-spike-in-infections/ar-BB15i7wc

George Caros

Putin/trump 2020 MEGA making Russia great again

Carlos Ponce

Poor George Caros, failing miserably to make a substantive contribution to this forum. All he can do is submit gibberish - again. So sad![sad][sad][sad][sad][sad]

George Caros

Putin/trump 2020 MEGA making Russia great again. Remember scrub scrub rinse rinse

Carlos Ponce

Putin/Caros 2020

Bailey Jones

"The problem lies not with reopening the economy but in a disregard for protocols among people who either believe the COVID-19 threat has been overhyped and restrictions on civic and commercial life have been overreaching or were tuned out and thinking none of it applied to them."

Looking at the data, the rise in cases really takes off in the week after Memorial Day. Cases are up 475% since that weekend. Testing has only increased 210% during the same time. On May 24th, the "positivity ratio" was 2.7%. On July 1st, it was 6.2%. These facts indicate that virus is spreading through the population at a faster and faster rate.

I'm hopeful, ever hopeful, that Texans will start taking common sense precautions, as every leader in our country is asking them to. I was happy to see the leader of the free world finally get on board yesterday when he said in an interview, “I’m all for masks. I think masks are good. I would wear - if I were in a group of people and I was close, I would, I would, I have. People have seen me wearing one. If I'm in a group of people where we're not, you know, ten feet away, and, but usually I'm not in that position and everyone's tested because I'm the president - they get tested before they see me but if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely."

David Shea

[thumbup]

Ray Taft

If the biggest danger is to misbehave and potentially spread COVID-19 by not wearing a mask, ignoring social distancing measures and behaving as if the virus doesn’t exist or isn’t a serious threat, then the Democrats would have stopped the street protests. But they didn’t. They joined in.

So shutting things down now is nothing but Democrat political BS. Bigoted Democrats like Yarbrough want our economy to fail, hoping Democrats will politically profit from it.

Make sure Democrats fail. Time for citizens to take back their rights. And vote RED - Remove Every Democrat.

George Caros

Putin/Trump 2020 MEGA make Russia great again

Carlos Ponce

George Caros, Trump has done more to keep Putin in check than Obama/Biden ever did. Remember when Obama told President Dmitri Medvedev, "Tell Vladimir after my election I have more flexibility."

Paula Flinn

Yes, and when Russia attacked Ukraine over the Crimea, during the Obama Administration, what happened next? Pres. Obama imposed sanctions on Russia, and Russia was expelled from the G-8.

What has Pres. Trump asked for? Relaxing the sanctions need Russia, permitting oil deals and drilling, stating that Russia should be included in the G-7.

Trump “says” he is tough on Russia. His actions prove otherwise. Allowing Russia to pay the Taliban a bounty on each of our American Soldiers killed in Afghanistan, is just how submissive to Russia and uncaring to American soldiers and their families, this President and his Administration have become.

Now we know that Trump was briefed on this as early as February. Intelligence has verified the story. The NYTimes has printed the story. People of both parties are outraged! What does the pathological liar (our president) have to say now?

Silence. Silence isn’t a plan.

Carlos Ponce

What does Paula know that the CIA and Pentagon does not? Oh, that's right, unsubstantiated claims from NYT writers who are always wrong quoting an unidentified source. You don't move on flimsy accusations, Paula.

Ray Taft

How totally lame. Your answer to Yarbrough screwing over the citizens of Galveston at the last minute is to write that it's another fake Russian hoax?

Democrats are despicable people who care nothing for the people. 'King' Yarbrough's last minute edict closing the beaches caused many, many people great harm. Shame on him and what he did!

Carlos Ponce

I usually don't listen to Michael Berry on KTRH but he had some choice words this morning about Galveston's Mayor Yarbrough - "clown".

Wayne D Holt

George, if you look at what Mr. Putin has done to help re-establish the role of the church (Russian Orothdox) in that country compared to the destruction of Christian institutions in the US by our Left, I would say Mr. Putin looks to be a very appealing political candidate.

The idea that Russians are under every bed here is ludicrous. Actually, I would much prefer Russians under my bed than Antifa terrorists. Russians generally have a good sense of human and are intelligent. Anitfa foot soldiers, not so much.

Gary Miller

Ray> Beat me to it again. Voters must look at what Democrat control has and is doing to the cities they control. If you vote for ANY Democrat you are voting for that kind of crap.

Gary Miller

Ray> You say it good. Democrats must be eliminated because they are the problem.

Walter Dannenmaier

"The biggest danger to the economy and to freedom is to continue to behave under those beliefs and potentially spread COVID-19 by not wearing a mask, ignoring social distancing measures and behaving as if the virus doesn’t exist or isn’t a serious threat." Exactly what evidence compels you to make this assertion, Ms. Elder? A new pathogen, likely man-made, entered the populace. A small fraction of the populace, per THE REPORTING OF THE DAILY NEWS, appears to have succumbed to it. It was certainly a horrible outcome for them and their families. The economic damage, sustained by the belief that the virus is a horrible threat to all, continues. I suppose future historians will argue over which was worse. I am betting on the economic damage caused by frightened politicians.

Gary Miller

Walter> I share your idea. Covid 19 is bad but killing the worlds best economy is not good.

Ted Gillis

I equate the failed success as similar to the 5th grade homeroom teacher (not you Carlos) leaving the classroom for 10 minutes and asking everyone to behave while they are out.

When the teacher returns and finds the room an out of control mess, the they have to punish the whole class, when we all know know who the misbehavers actually were.

Ray!

Jose' Boix

Laura, thanks for finally defining some much needed "measurable and trended key indicator parameters" to help show us if "we are getting there yet." Your statement: "Some health officials argued Texas should have waited to meet certain benchmarks — either a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over 14 days or a downward trajectory in the percentage of positive test results over 14 days" is key. While I would have had both trends - having either one show a "cresting" and more so "downward trend' is masterfully - and for 14 days to boot! Just my thoughts.

Chuck DiFalco

I'm going to go further than Ms. Elder did in criticizing those who think medical scientists should be making economic decision making metrics for elected officials. "Some health officials argued Texas should have waited to meet certain benchmarks" -- these health officials are more dangerous than the ideologue anti-maskers in that the health officials are directly leading us into Depression 2.0, with its global chronic poverty, misery, and death worse than coronavirus.

Gary Miller

How much has the mobs of people who don't care, HATE GROUP PROTESTERS, done to increase cases? If the members of the hate groups survive while the group itself dies it's the best result.

Ted Gillis

Gee, thanks for your positive comments Gary.

Chuck DiFalco

Thank you, Ms. Elder, for this well reasoned article, starting with "Reopening the economy wasn't the problem".

Jim Forsythe

Until people do what is necessary, we will have these stops and starts. Even if guidelines are followed some tightening of rules may be necessary. This is what they said when we first started to remove some of the requirements.

The Governor said the biggest mistake was opening the bars too soon. When this tightening of requirements is loosening, bars may be the last to have some restrictions lifted.

Each event that happens and their outcome helps determine what will happen with restrictions if they are necessary again. If you do not more strict rules, try your best to follow guidelines when asked to do so.

The goal is not to overwhelm health care systems.

Charlotte O'rourke

Reopening wasn’t the problem .... the problem was the pace of reopening, ignoring common sense use of masks, and allowing overcrowding at beaches and events.

It’s scary that anyone believes the virus cannot be transmitted at the beach where masks are less likely to be worn, overcrowding is frequent, and others invade your space.

Less likely than being inside with same conditions of no masks, overcrowding, and invasion of space, but still a very real possibility.

Chuck DiFalco

The pace of reopening wasn’t the problem, either. “Pace of reopening” are just code words for letting what I just said is most dangerous, which is letting epidemiologists formulate public policy outside of strictly medical lines. The economy isn’t a video game or simulation that you can just pause and start up again when you think it’s ok. At some point, the economic damage due to lockdowns leads to irreversible systemic failure, also known as a depression. I think that point – late March lockdowns plus 90 days – is imminent if not already passed.

Virginia Stone

I have never, never gloated over human suffering, my research of the COVID 19 virus led me to believe there would be a large spike in positive testing if we as a state ignored the fact that a downward trajection was an absolute necessity trying to get a handle on this superspreader novel virus but that didn't happen and it really isn't about the date Laura that the state opened but the science. People are often misled and angry about things they feel they are powerless to control. The fact that many people get their information from unreliable sources is an unintended consequence of social media and the worldwide web, we want to find the truth but it is very difficult to do the research necessary to discover it, I try to remember to use critical thinking and since there is no sense common to all people, using rational thought because it helps me to see the truth. One unfortunate truth is many people just don't care about protocols meant to protect or they follow the example of the President of the United States and other social media sources that can mislead,

Wayne D Holt

Lots of helpful conclusions in this piece, Laura. One more caveat I would suggest that has been ignored by those who are the decision makers for us all: it is completely and provably untrue that the "science" is settled about infection rates, fatality rates, protective precautions, rate of spread...just about anything you can imagine that is relevant.

There are world-class institutions, Nobel Prize winning scientists, research teams and epistemological experts who have arrived at the exact opposite conclusions from those we are being bombarded with on a daily basis.

It was refreshing to read something that didn't appear to be absolutist in its guidelines while still making the case for the position you have. I have no problem with that type of open discourse and I believe it's a healthy alternative to the senseless social shaming that some low-information people attempt in browbeating those who hold alternate viewpoints.

George Caros

Putin/trump 2020 making Russia great again

Carlos Ponce

Poor George Caros, failing miserably to make a substantive contribution to this forum. All he can do is submit gibberish - again. So sad![sad][sad][sad][sad]

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