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Gov. Greg Abbott Texas

It’s not about staying open, it’s about staying safe

While Republicans rush to reopen Texas, 55% of voters think it’s more important to keep people safe.

We have all sacrificed a lot during the stay-at-home orders, and we don’t want to undo all of the effort by rushing to reopen the state.

We all want to see businesses open again, but the decision to do so needs to be led by doctors and scientists with our safety in mind, not by the donors and lobbyists on Gov. Greg Abbott’s “strike force.”

That’s why we implore state leaders to listen to the majority of voters, who do not want all of their recent sacrifices to be undone by opening the state too soon. That’s the message in a recent Texas Tribune poll that showed 55% of registered voters want to make sure the state is safe, while a mere 33% want the state to immediately reopen - a 22-point margin that any politician should take note of.

Though we’ve seen protests to reopen the states, we’ve also seen that these efforts are being funded by wealthy conservative donors who want to give the appearance of a grassroots effort. That’s not real grassroots, that’s a practice referred to as “astroturfing.” 

We should instead be listening to doctors and scientists, as stated in Texas Monthly:

"The reopening plan also deviates considerably from what many public health officials say is needed for Texans to safely return to working in offices, shopping, and eating out. 'The last thing we want is to waste all the great foresight and decisions we’ve made by ignoring the data and prematurely reopening wide,' William McKeon, president of the Texas Medical Center, told the Houston Chronicle." 

Another problem here is that the curve isn’t flattening. Late last week, we saw the fourth highest new case total and third highest fatality rate overall. 

Local businesses, though eager to get back to work and back to a sense of normalcy, have also expressed concerns saying it’s not time to reopen yet. So far, Texans have yet to see the increased testing we were promised, and have yet to see adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies. 

As a local restaurant owner told the San Antonio Current

“I don’t want to put my staff or guests at risk, to be guinea pigs," said Rebel Mariposa, chef-owner of La Botanica on the St. Mary’s Strip. “If testing were more readily available in our area, I’d feel differently."

And it didn’t end there. Movie theaters, which are allowed to open again on May 1st, aren’t so eager to start selling tickets again according to a tweet from the Alamo Drafthouse as reported in the Austin Chronicle:

“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly.” 

The bottom line: if we don’t make sure correct safety procedures are in place before reopening businesses the sacrifices Texans have already made will be for nothing. 

Abbott’s actions threaten to undo the work of so many Texans, putting our health and safety at risk. We need to continue listening to doctors, scientists, local business owners, and our local progressive leaders who are picking up the torch and demonstrating strong, steadfast leadership during this global pandemic. 

But no matter what Abbott does, it’s not him who’s really going to reopen the economy. It’s consumers like you.