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Texas governor pauses reopening the state as COVID-19 cases rise

Andy Uhler Jun 26, 2020
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Texas consumers and business owners and are having trouble navigating the confusing climate, as COVID-19 continues to spread. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images
COVID-19

Texas governor pauses reopening the state as COVID-19 cases rise

Andy Uhler Jun 26, 2020
Heard on:
Texas consumers and business owners and are having trouble navigating the confusing climate, as COVID-19 continues to spread. Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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Update (June 26, 2020): On Friday morning, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring bars to close and putting restrictions on outdoor gatherings. Abbott also scaled back restaurant dining, the most dramatic reversals yet as confirmed coronavirus cases surge.

Abbott also said rafting and tubing outfitters on Texas’ popular rivers must close and that outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more must be approved by local governments.


More than 39,000 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the U.S. just Thursday, a new record. Some businesses are shutting down again: Apple has ordered the re-closing of 18 stores in the U.S., including seven stores in Houston, because of spikes.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he was “pausing” the reopening of the state. But he said he’s not telling any businesses to re-close.

Among Texans who have been tested for COVID-19 in the past week, 1 out of 10 has it.

“As you look at the trends and then you look at our openings, you can see some patterns there and they’re not surprising,” said Marilyn Felkner, who teaches public health at the University of Texas at Austin.

Since May, the governor has gradually pulled back social distancing requirements. Felkner said each time, Texas sees an uptick in cases.

Right now, most businesses can operate at 50% capacity. But rules vary by city. Depending where you are in Texas, you might be required to wear a mask, which leads to confusion among consumers and business owners.

“Businesses need to be able to get back open, but we’re not going to be able to unless business owners, and then every Texan, take seriously the fact that this is in some ways in our own hands,” said Justin Yancy, president of the Texas Business Leadership Council.

Gov. Abbott said Thursday, “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses.” But he may have to do just that if the trend continues and COVID-19 keeps spreading.

With reporting from The Associated Press

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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