Yesterday, on May 18th Gov. Abbott issued the Executive Order moving Texas into Phase 2 of the staggered re-opening. Phase 1 re-opening had occurred almost precisely 3 weeks prior. The primary arguments used in favor of doing so revolve around restoring jobs, hospitalization rates remaining somewhat steady, and percentage positive confirmed tests. They provided state-wide numbers for the last two points.
That last one can be misleading though, as state testing volume overall has continued to increase, a decline in the positive “ratio” is definitely going to occur, even if daily positive tests are actually increasing! Daily positive rates would have to OUTPACE any increase in testing volume before this “ratio” metric would trend any direction but down, and no testing volume per day data was provided as part of the governor’s chart seen below.
The validity of this metric and trend is highly dependent upon how many tests are being administered per day and the health status of people seeking those tests. Being that testing is not yet widespread, free, or public in Texas, it is hard to make an argument that those tested equates to a representative sample of the population yet.
Also worth noting is that on May 12th, the state disaster declaration was extended for all Texas counties.
Some noteworthy local exceptions were illuminated in the Phase 2 plans, including the Amarillo area, whom are experiencing a surge in cases, a hot-spot likely originating from the struggling meat processing plants
- Read the Summary on the Governor’s site.
- Read the full text of the Order.
- Watch the full briefing on KXAN
Notably this includes scheduled re-open dates between May 18th and May 31st, and additional language for things like:
- Restaurants (further capacity)
- Tattoo Parlors
- Sporting Clubs
- Youth Clubs
- Childcare Facilities
- Youth Camps
- Youth Sports
- Professional Sports (without spectators)
It remains a unclear how local counties and municipalities are going to be allowed to handle their own case surges, if and when an additional waves of COVID-19 cases mount up. So far, the State has been adamant about how the order at the state level over-rules any local ordinance or orders, and Austin has been actively adjusting it’s guidance to comply with state rules.