HOUSTON – Texas took steps to reopen on Friday, allowing restaurants, malls, retail stores and some other businesses to resume operations, with strict limits on capacity.
While the state’s stay home order expired and some coronavirus restrictions were rolled back amid this new phase in the state’s response to the coronavirus, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged Houston residents Sunday to remain mindful of the virus.
“Don’t act as if the virus is gone,” Turner said. “The best thing we can do as we move forward, let’s say, as we open is to be cautious in our actions, to recognize that the virus has not left our city and until there’s a vaccine what we are asked to do now is to manage the virus as much as possible. And what we mean by ‘manage it’ is that you still have to engage in social distancing. It’s still very important for people to put on their masks.”
Turner asked residents to continue practicing social distancing and wearing face masks while out in public, citing that 25-30 percent of those infected with the virus are asymptomatic.
“I know there’s no penalty or citation or anything like that but there is still a need for people to be, to have their face coverings on,” Turner said.
The mayor’s plea came as Abbott announced that the state’s number of recoveries exceeded the number of active cases in the state the past two days.
Texas confirmed 20 deaths related to the coronavirus and 1,026 new cases Sunday, making it the fourth day the state has reported over 1,000 cases, according to the Texas Tribune.
On Saturday, Turner announced Houston matched its highest single-day death total, reporting 5 additional coronavirus-related deaths. The city reported four more deaths Sunday, bringing the city’s overall death count to 69.
All in all, the city also announced 188 additional COVID-19 cases over the weekend, bringing the total city’s total case count to 3,908.
When asked Sunday about Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s request that Harris County residents report businesses violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive orders, Turner said most of the city’s residents were approaching the reopening with caution.
“A lot of this is self-compliant, self-policing," Turner said. “The City of Houston, of course, we don’t have the resources to be going around to every business to make sure they’re following the 25 percent occupancy requirement. Most Houstonians are taking a very cautions approach. They’re continuing to order curbside service, they’re continuing to do those things that have worked for us over the last 60 days”