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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Imperative to keep Texas closed through COVID-19

Everyone is eager for the nation to reopen after COVID-19 wreaked havoc in the country, but it is imperative we remain closed until the threat of the virus is entirely eliminated.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus as a pandemic on March 11. It’s been a little over a month of sitting inside quarantined houses without friends, family or school, and, understandably, residents are eager to return to normalcy.

The question is, at what cost?

State officials closed restaurants, bars and non-essential businesses to help flatten the curve, and many people are questioning the orders fueling between health and economy.

On Easter Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gave a glimpse of days to come.

He extended the disaster declaration for all Texas counties, but hinted of an upcoming executive order outlining how and when Texas businesses will reopen.

At a press conference April 17, Abbott said he has a desire to slowly reopen businesses by the first week of May.

“If everyone were to rush the doors and go back into the job market overnight, we would see an outbreak of COVID-19 all over again,” he stated. “That’s exactly why I’m issuing the executive order establishing what the statewide standards would be in the coming days about what the approach is.

“We will focus on protecting lives, while restoring livelihoods. We can and we must do this. We can do both.”

His next steps, along with that of the White House and President Trump, will make or break us.

Reopening too soon can cause a rebound effect and send us all into quarantine throughout the summer. A scenario none of us want.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said Texas has not peaked and while it may be appropriate to reopen portions of the country that have, we are not one of them.

“We are not to receive our peak until April 30 in Texas,” he said. “We are not expected to have a complete elimination of deaths until the first of June.”

Branick said he is expecting a call from Gov. Abbott this week on further orders for all county judges.

“We have not got any direction from the governor, but we are supposed to have a conference call this week to outline something, but I don’t know what as of yet,” he said. “We may be able to look at targeted businesses and put more regulations on those that want to operate, but right now we will watch our curve and wait for orders.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States nationally is in the acceleration phase of the pandemic with 579,005 confirmed cases and 22,252 deaths as of Tuesday.

The U.S. has the most confirmed cases and deaths of any nation, passing Italy last week.

Texas alone holds 13,906 confirmed cases. Over the past weekend, Jefferson County saw a jump from Friday to Saturday at a total of 135 confirmed cases. Port Arthur and Mid-County top 40 cases.

Overall, Beaumont has recorded five deaths and Port Arthur one.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.