The announcement comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier in the day initial steps to reopen the state’s economy during the current COVID-19 outbreak. A state task force will oversee phased reopenings, with additional announcements coming April 27 and in May, Turner referenced during his remarks.
“I certainly look forward to hearing more of the details, and we are assessing the things he had to say in his executive orders,” Turner said during the news conference.
City operations will continue as they have been through May, Turner said, as the city consults medical professionals on how to proceed with reopening the city’s economy, with “measured steps based on medical facts, and do it in a very very measured way.”
Cautious optimism on reopening the city was the message both Turner and Houston Health Department Health Authority Dr. David Persse stressed during the news conference, as the City of Houston saw 114 new COVID-19 cases, with two additional deaths April 17, bringing the total Houston case and death count to 2,570 and 31, respectively.
“Our efforts appear to be working,” Turner said.
Still, city officials are looking to not have Houston become another Singapore, which saw over 700 new cases on April 16, according to news reports, coming after the city-state was lauded for its previous outbreak management efforts.
“If we take our foot off of the brake, we can easily go in the other direction,” Turner said.
A key contributor to Houston’s decision to reopen will be on its testing capacity, the mayor said. This comes as the number of tests at two new COVID-19 testing sites, on West Houston at Westheimer and Highway 6 and Pasadena on West Southmore Avenue, at Shaver Street, reached 1,000 tests each, Turner said.
With “ubiquitous testing,” according to Turner, should Houston choose to announce some easing in restrictions, new cases would more easily be pinpointed and those individuals could then be quarantined, preventing further outbreaks.