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.
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
Notably this includes scheduled re-open dates between May 18th and May 31st, and additional language for things like:
Restaurants (further capacity)
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.
The following is from a communication from the office of Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett:
So many of our neighbors have sought ways to help others as we work together to reach the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being a light for others is certainly a meaningful way to get through these difficult times. Understanding the challenges facing the many with lost jobs or weakened businesses, I include below some ways you can help that do not require contributing money.
Working with so many nonprofits, myself, I know a number, which continue doing so much good, have been forced to cancel fundraising events and suffer reduced donations. For those still fortunate enough to be able to offer financial support, I have collected some seeking your help here.
Food Banks You have seen the lines of cars waiting for help. With so much demand, more volunteers are needed.
Central Texas Food Bank Central Texas Food Bank is seeking volunteers. Visit the website here. Volunteer shifts have been adjusted to include fewer people and maximize social distancing and have even implemented a touch-free volunteer check-in system. Additional precautionary hygiene measures are in place to maintain the health and wellness of volunteer workforce as well as those that receive our food. Learn more about their safety measures here.
Hays County Food Bank Hays County Food Bank has opportunities for people with cars. In order to determine if you can volunteer, you must first answer a few screening questions. Learn more here.
Senior Access and Drive a Senior Central Texas Both programs seek volunteers for their Senior Buddy programs, in an effort to get essential goods and services to senior citizens who are at greater risk from the virus. Senior Access can be reached at its website here. Drive a Senior can be reached at its website here.
Aspire to Age Aspire to Age is in need of volunteers for 20-minute virtual phone check-ins with seniors. Their volunteer form can be found here. You can learn more about Aspire to Age and their services by visiting their website here.
We Are Blood A blood donation group with ongoing donor centers.
The North Lamar Location is located at 4300 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin.
The Round Rock Location is located at 2132 N. Mays, Suite 900.
The South Austin Location is located at 3100 W. Slaughter Lane.
They can all be reached at (512) 206-1266.
Additionally, they are collecting convalescent plasma donations from fully recovered COVID-19 individuals. This plasma is being used to treat patients currently fighting COVID-19. If you are a fully recovered COVID-19 patient and want to be considered as a convalescent plasma donor, learn more here.
Face Shield Project This Austin based volunteer organization is building improvised face shields by the thousands in partnership with the City of Austin, UT Dell Medical School and local companies. They provide all the tools, materials, training and a safe, physically distanced and hygienically supervised production space. Learn more about how to volunteer here.
Translators without Borders If you are fluent in at least one language other than your native language and would like to translate medical texts or translate for crisis response, complete the Translator Application Form here.
Generation Serve They have put a list of kid-simple activities for volunteering at home. See more here.
Make birthday cards for Pop-Up Birthday for children and teens in foster care – The cards can be simple or embellished. Write a small message inside and when you’re finished, mail them to Pop-Up Birthday at 101 Westlake Dr. Ste. 210, Austin, TX 78746.
Marbridge Foundation offers safe residential care for adults with cognitive disabilities. The residents typically have very active day-to-day lives and frequent visitors, but they have had to shelter in place without visitors recently. Please write up-lifting cards, filled with jokes and pictures, and send them to the residents of Marbridge, c/o Becca McPherson, PO Box 2250, Manchaca, TX 78652.
Nextdoor To help one’s nearby neighbors, an app I have seen recommended is Nextdoor. It has added a feature to help people coordinate offers of help. The Help Map, lets people say where they are and whether they need or can offer help, such as picking up groceries or taking a dog for a walk for an elderly neighbor. Sign up, address verification for Nextdoor’s community security. You can learn more here.
Let me know if you see a local resource missing about which I should be aware. Also, I continue to update my website coronavirus page website with helpful links, which you can view here.
We will get to the other side of this crisis, together.