President Trump gives green light to open economy. City officials talk next steps.
By SARA VANDEN BERGE
President Donald Trump announced a plan Thursday to begin the process of re-opening the nation’s economy.
“Experts say the curve has flattened and the peak in new cases is behind us,” Trump said in a televised news conference.
He said 30 percent of the country has reported no new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days.
“We are opening up our country,” Trump said, adding that he is leaving it up to governors to decide exactly how that should be done.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce his plan for the state on Friday.
And for weary residents tired of being locked inside their homes and local business owners itching to get back to serving their customers, those talks can’t come soon enough.
We are all ready to get back to some normalcy, so I reached out to several members of the city council to ask them to share their thoughts on what easing local restrictions might look like.
“There is nothing more I could wish than for our city to reopen for commerce,” Mayor Doug Svien told me earlier this week.
As discussions begin on the city’s next step, members of the city council sent me their own thoughts on the matter.
In these unprecedented times people should know there is light at the end of this tunnel of darkness. The work our citizens have done has helped give our healthcare system time to stock up and prepare to help those in our community that will need their medical care.
My hope is, at the beginning of May, we can start to get businesses back open. I believe realistically this will be a step by step plan, gradually allowing businesses to open with a certain maximum percentage of occupancy or similar method.
All of this, of course, is dependent on what action Governor Abbott takes by executive order and a review of the threat of the virus at our local level, seeking input from local medical professionals.
I want to encourage people to keep their heads up and focus on that light as we will get there together and roar back, because we are - a City of Champions.
BRADY PENDLETON My hope is this week the governor issues a new declaration redefining what is essential business and loosening restrictions until the April 30 declaration expires.
Beginning April 30 the governor allows local control to govern.
At that point, we as a city begin to open all businesses with a limitation on businesses only occupying at one-half of their building occupancy.
This continuing until end of May and assuming we do not see a drastic increase in COVID cases.
When I ran for city council I thought I’d be considering lowering or raising tax rates. Having to make decisions about people’s livelihoods is an overwhelming responsibility that has weighed heavily on my mind for weeks now.
I’ve thought about my personal friends such as Kerry, Sherry and Steve and how their restaurants are going to fare through this. And I’ve worried about my hair dresser and what she’s doing to cope.
This is personal.These are our friends, our neighbors and our relatives.
As we look to the next few weeks, we have to balance economic concerns with health concerns.
I’ve listened to the dire warnings of our hospital running out of rooms and lacking enough medical personnel. I’ve seen reports of models that extremely overestimated the number of cases and the number of deaths.
As a council, we are going to have to weigh all this information and make the most educated decision we can as we look toward the re-opening of our businesses.
I ask everyone for prayers for the wisdom to make the best decisions possible for both our physical and economic health.
Governor Abbott ordered rural areas to follow the same restrictions as more densely populated counties.
Regardless of what local data is telling us, we are limited on what we can do at this point. Models change daily as data becomes available, and we continue to see a more positive outlook than we saw even a week ago.
The most cautioned models are showing local action has been very effective. The updated model from covidactnow.org has gone from "Erath County should be more aggressive" to "things look okay," and we continue to track behind the model even as its outlook improves.
I am proud that our community took bold steps as we acted ahead of the governor in implementing measures to slow the spread. Now, we should continue bold conversations to determine next steps.
People are hurting, and it is important for our city to see their leaders lead. We cannot open the flood gates.
We must continue practicing social distancing. We must remain diligent with our hygiene. We should continue to work remotely when possible.
We must continue to avoid large gatherings, and we must continue to be smart about our travel decisions.
We must begin the conversations about incremental steps to re-opening as soon as we know what the President and Governor's plans are announced Thursday and Friday.
As a council, we sought input on what restrictions to implement as certain milestones were met. A similar process should be developed for getting back to business.
It is my hope that just as communities led in restrictive action, the governor will decide it is best to let them lead moving forward as well.
We cannot stay shut in for three more months, but we must understand that cases will rise as we begin to reopen, and we have to be sure we don't overwhelm the healthcare system.
That has been the goal all along and we must continually be mindful of the system capacity as we develop plans to move forward.
I absolutely think it’s time to begin having conversations on what a path to normalcy looks like in Stephenville. A path that continues to protect lives, but allows the restoration of livelihoods.
I hope to be able to continue to rely on the guidance from our local medical professionals who have done a remarkable job of helping lead this.
I also hope for some strong, clear guidance from Governor Abbott’s office.