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Waco Officials Warn Against False Sense of Security Amidst Governor Abbott's Order to Reopen Economy

Texas Governor Greg Abbott expanded upon his executive order to reopen certain businesses on Tuesday, announcing that hair salons and swimming pools would be allowed to reopen starting on May 8th, followed by gyms and exercise facilities on May 18th. 


Waco Mayer Kyle Deaver addressed this update in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon alongside McLennan County Judge Scott Felton and Dr. Jackson Griggs of the Family Health Center.

“While I’m glad to see some of these businesses being able to open and get back to work, and I’m certainly glad to be able to get a haircut, I am concerned about continuing to open these new segments of the economy without taking the 14 day waiting period that he discussed in his earlier press conferences as being a necessary measure. So I think we’re going to have to continue to be very careful as we open these businesses, and I know that they will be responsible.”

In addition to expressing their hesitancy about the Governor’s decision to reopen businesses prior to reviewing statistics gathered over a fourteen day waiting period, Deaver and Griggs also acknowledged the difficulty of maintaining a clear and consistent message about social distancing while also reopening the economy. 

“It is sort of a tight wire that we’re walking, and it is hard to communicate clearly on that.”

“But I also would say don’t be surprised if six weeks from now we’re messaging something that feels different than what we’re messaging today. I think the important thing is that we’re all in communication. Because if we do see exponential growth of the virus in our community, then we might go back to recommendations that people really isolate themselves for a while.”

Ultimately, the officials agreed that the public’s number one priority should be continuing to practice social distancing recommendations, regardless of the amount of businesses that Abbott chooses to reopen. 

“There is some question about whether the state is in good shape to begin to reopen. Cases do continue to climb…but I think the main thing, the biggest thing, is to maintain that physical distance from people who are not in your household, and wash hands and wear face coverings whenever you can.”

Griggs added that while numbers in McLennan County might look promising now, things could change very quickly. 

“Among communities in the state, we are in a unique situation right now, having a low prevalence. That puts us at a great advantage. But we could lose that - all the work that we’ve done, all the things that we have compared to other communities our size, we could lose that very quickly if we were to become lax on the health behaviors that we’ve been describing. It won’t take long for us to catch up with other communities because of the exponential growth of the virus if we throw caution to the wind, or if we misinterpret the Governor as to be saying don’t worry anymore about this pandemic.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District has reported 92 total cases of COVID-19. Of these, 7 cases are active, with one of those cases being in critical condition. 81 cases have recovered, and 4 have died. 

With KWBU News, I’m Sam Cedar.