April 24, 2020
Texas Would Be Locked Down Longer than States
with Dem Governors Based on Containment Dates
By Mike Hailey
Governor Greg Abbott could be tempted to tap the brakes on the state's coronavirus crisis reopening in light of President Donald Trump's sudden shift to a cautious approach and research that indicates that Texas won't be able to start easing lockdowns safely for another six weeks.
As Georgia took the lead in the nation's reopening on Friday despite Trump's disapproval, scientists in Austin and Seattle pushed back projections on the Texas death count peak and the earliest date that the state can began to ease social isolation mandates without setting the stage for a new outbreak here.
The yellow flags from Trump and virus tracking teams at the flagship universities in Texas and Washington state could prompt Abbott to reconsider the timetable for the state's reopening that he put in motion this week and planned to accelerate on Monday.
The University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium revised its forecast on Friday for the state's death toll that it doesn't expect to hit a high point now until Wednesday - one week later than an outlook that it had brightened considerably early this week.
After estimating that the Texas death toll had peaked nine days ago, the Health Metrics and Evaluation Institute at the University of Washington also altered its outlook for the Lone Star State with a new projected fatality apex today.
But Texans might be even more disappointed to learn that they can expect to have spent more time confined to their homes than their counterparts in all but two of the nation's 10 largest states if the coronavirus researchers analysts at UW are right about when it will be safe to start easing lockdowns.
The HME target dates for the initial easing of lockdowns are based on when it estimates that states can have sufficient containment strategies in place with widespread testing, contact tracing, public gathering limitations and quarantines for people who've been infected or exposed.
Residents in the major states where Democratic governors issued stay-at-home orders in the final two weeks of March will have been subject to lockdowns for shorter spans of time than the Americans who live in the three major southern states that Republicans lead.
The HME estimates that Texas will not have an effective containment plan ready to go before June 8 - a full week later than the initial projection. Texans as a result will have spent 67 days in a lockdown that Abbott ordered statewide early this month If the Republican governor implements a reopening timetable that follows the advice of the experts at UW.
But that's not as long as the people in Florida and Georgia would be locked down if Republican Governors Ron DeSantis and Brian Kemp tailored the relaxation of restrictions on social movement in line with HME target dates for containment program executions on June 14 and June 22 respectively.
Kemp has been the most flagrant state leader when it comes to ignoring the experts - having given gyms, hair salons and a long list of other businesses the green light to reopen today with restaurants and theaters allowed to resume normal operations on Monday with social distancing requirements.
But Georgia's grand reopening is off to an inauspicious start after Trump said that the Peach State was moving too quickly in a move that was highly embarrassing for Kemp. The Georgia governor contends that Vice-President Mike Pence and other White House officials had signed off on the ambitious reopening schedule - an assertion that Trump flatly denied today.
After encouraging governors to move without haste with reopening plans, Trump said on Thursday night that he thinks that social distancing requirements might have to be extended into the summer.
Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared to be on the same page with Trump and the UW researchers on Friday when she extended the stay-at-home order there from May 1 to May 15. The HME estimates that Michigan will have a viable containment plan in pace by May 20.
Whitmer imposed the initial restrictions on March 24 - nine days before the initial Abbott directive took effect.