April 23, 2020

Lawmakers Poll Finds Republicans More Eager to Reopen
as Virus Trackers Say Texas Won't Be Ready Before June 8

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

A trio of conservative state lawmakers released a poll on Thursday that found that the lion's share of Democrats want to keep Texas closed for business while GOP voters are divided on whether to reopen without haste or to play it safer with the current coronavirus restrictions in place.

The poll results were unveiled against a backdrop of uncertainty with significant shifts and conflicting opinions on target dates for death count peaks among scientists who've been tracking the virus in Texas and other states. Coronavirus research teams at the University of Texas and University of Washington had been two weeks apart on when they guessed that the killing spree would begin to decline.

The academic monitoring groups in Austin and Seattle were on the same basic page by Thursday when the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium estimated that the death toll had peaked on Wednesday while the Health Metrics and Evaluation Institute at UW projected that it wouldn't hit a high point until Friday. The HME projected that all of the nation's largest states would be reading to start easing lockdowns in May with the exception of target dates for Texas, Georgia and Florida in June.

State Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood teamed up with State Reps. Kyle Biedermann of Fredricksburg and Tony Tinderholt of Arlington for the commissioning of the poll found twice as much enthusiasm among Republican voters for an immediate return to business as usual with the added elements of social distancing and personal hygiene standards.

Conducted by the Kansas City-based firm Remington Research Group, the poll showed 50 percent of the GOP voters in Texas in favor of a green light for business reopenings with 79 percent of the Republicans wanting to make it conditional on a strict adherence to social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

The survey for the Texas legislators with strong tea party ties found 82 percent of the Democrats supporting the continuation of lockdowns for the time being. Fifty percent of the GOP voters in the survey supported the removal of restrictions on business and individuals while 40 percent thought that Texas should remain closed for now.

The RRG poll found 67 percent of Republicans and only 47 percent of Democrats with a preference for reductions in government over higher taxes when the Legislature tackles a massive budget crisis when it meets again early next year. A mere 9 percent of the Democrats favored a tax increase over spending cuts compared to 4 percent of Republicans.

While 52 percent of the GOP voters said that individuals should be able to make the call on when they would return to work instead of leaving the decision to politicians or bureaucrats. Only 33 percent of Democratic voters in the poll agree with Republicans who want to let Texans decide when they will be free to go back to normal.

The elite research team in Washington state had found the coronavirus death toll to be on the decline a week ago before shuffling the projected peak to Friday. The UW virus trackers pushed another key Texas target date back one to June 8 - estimating that lockdowns could be safely relaxed with a comprehensive containment strategy that would include testing, contact tracing and quarantines.

The HME predicted that Florida wouldn't have a sufficient containment plan in place in time to start the process of bringing lockdowns to ends before June 14 with a target date of June 22 for a viable virus control program in Georgia.

Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp doesn't see the need to wait that long, however, with a plan that will give his state a head start in the reopening derby with businesses like gyms, barber shops and hair salons allowed to reopen on Friday while restaurants and theaters will have to wait until Monday.

Kemp indicated today that he plan to proceed as planned despite an embarrassing early review from President Donald Trump who said on Wednesday night that he believed Georgia was rushing back to business before it should.

The running worldwide tally at Johns Hopkins University on Thursday night had Texas with 22,625 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 604 four deaths. The virus has killed almost 50,000 people in the U.S. where there have been more than 868,000 positive tests since the disease started taking a significant toll across the country two months ago.


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