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With state, county virus cases rising, how does the state safely re-open?

When President Donald Trump first announced his plan to re-open the U.S. in coming weeks, he laid down one particular metric recommended by CDC and some of the top medical experts in the country: It’s safe to re-open, provided a particular jurisdiction -- whether it be state, county, or town – can point to the available data and see that a downward trajectory is present in either the number of documented cases of COVID-19 (the SARS-CoV-2 virus) or the percent of positive cases. Looking at the numbers, neither of those scenarios seem present in either the state data or the Hidalgo County data. So, given that, how will re-opening segments of our economy work? Will it cause the case numbers to spike, or will they remain relatively the same? Based on Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s announcement last Friday, his new executive order will ease some of the most severe restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. Those being, what is and isn’t considered an “essential business,” and what those considered non-essential must do to re-open. In the case of retail outlets, what they can offer starting this Friday is retail-to-go, which is basically order either online or by phone, and then pick up the retail merchandise at the curb. How that’s going to work hasn’t yet been fully fleshed out. How the county and cities located in Hidalgo County will make it work, who knows. There is no one size fits all apparently. With regard to the county and the cities, they can add their own restrictions that toughen the state’s executive order, but they can’t do anything that will dilute it either. Abbott’s new executive order will also allow medical professionals to resume elective surgeries (non-essential) and medical procedures. For people who have been sitting around for approximately three weeks, waiting for that to happen, worried that they may have cancer, that’s a good thing, right? According to the governor, “Together, we can bend the curve. Together we can overcome this pandemic. We can get folks back to work. We can adopt safe strategies that prevent the spread of COVID-19. And, step by step, we will open Texas.” (Source: USA Today.) Thing is, the spread of the virus is continuing. Big time. In Texas, for example, between this Tuesday and last Tuesday (April 14), deaths due to COVID-19 increased by 72 percent, from 287 to 495. Total confirmed cases increased by 39 ...

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