Houston leaders uncertain of which sectors should reopen first after pandemic

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is not sharing much regarding her plans to restart Harris County’s economy except stating, “We’re in conversations right now about what we would open up” on Thursday morning.

Hidalgo’s remarks were in response to Channel 2 Investigates questions, “The biggest planning right now goes to the testing. It goes to the capacity, the modeling.”

The Houston area has a Gross Domestic Product of $490 billion, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Hidalgo said in order to jump-start the economy properly, more tests are needed in case there is a flare-up of positive coronavirus cases.

As for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s position on the first sector the city is looking at, he said, “We are working on that, I can’t give you an answer right now.”

Turner did not shed much light with Channel 2 Investigates on the city’s first steps in opening the economy back up.

“We are having conversations but we are not at this point ready to announce as to how we are going to open this city up at this point in time, those announcements or pronouncements will come, but today is not the day for those statements,” Turner said.

On Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump put forth restricted guidelines to get the nation’s economy going again. Gov. Gregg Abbott is set to make his plans for the state in an announcement on Friday.

Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, said she believes she knows which sector should open up first.

“Healthcare is close to 20% of the nation’s economy and it’s a big source of economic revenue here in Houston,” she said.

Ho, who stressed safety as the primary driver to rebooting the economy, also shared with Channel 2 Investigates her view on the retail sector which is pivotal in any big city.

“You don’t want to necessarily want to reopen an entire mall because that attracts all these people that just want to go there and congregate and wander around, but let’s let small retailers open first and see how they do,” she said.

About the Author: