HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s Thursday reopening plan is a “little more aggressive” than he would prefer. He said allowing restaurants and other businesses to open at 75% capacity is a “high risk” plan.
Turner said he worried about the timing of Abbott’s plan as flu season is approaching and many students plan to return to in-person learning in the coming weeks.
Abbott said he planned to use the state’s hospitalization rate as the determining factor for the reopening plan.
However, Turner and Dr. David Persse of the Houston Health Department said hospitalization is a lagging indicator for COVID-19. Turner said monitoring the positivity rate is more accurate in determining community spread.
The goal is for Houston’s positivity rate to be at 5% or below for at least 14 days, Turner said. This week, the positivity rate is 6.1%.
Turner said he concerned the reopening plan will cause a spike in new cases and deaths.
“We have come too far, and far too many people have lost their lives,” Turner said.
The city will move forward with a “cautious approach” to reopening, he said. Last week, the city announced some live events, excluding those in uncontrolled spaces and venues, would be able to have a small audience at 25% capacity.
The Texans at NRG Stadium and the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall are among the first attempting to follow the health and safety protocols set by the city.
Turner encouraged residents to use their best judgment and patronize businesses that are doing their best to adhere to the health and safety guidelines such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hygiene.
Here is the full press conference from Turner:
WATCH LIVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner gives update and discusses Gov. Abbott's reopening order. NEW ORDER: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/09/16/after-hinting-at-reopening-plan-gov-abbott-to-hold-covid-19-press-conference-thursday/Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, September 17, 2020
Abbott said restaurants, retail shops, gyms, office buildings and factories are allowed to increase to 75% capacity starting Monday. While hospitals can resume elective procedures.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can begin allowing visitations again, but they must continue to observe certain health protocols. Also, there must not be an outbreak of COVID-19 at the facility.
Abbott ordered that bars remain closed for now because they are nationally recognized as places where COVID-19 spreads.
“We are focused on finding ways to get them open,” Abbott said, noting that some bar owner associations have made recommendations to health officials about how they can safely reopen.