Former Shell Oil Co. President Marvin Odum will serve as Houston coronavirus recovery czar, tasked with forming a plan to safely re-open the city’s economy, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced April 20.
“We will act as quickly as possible but our speed will rely on a number of factors,” Odum said at the press conference announcing the appointment.
Turner said to re-open the city’s various economic sectors, it will need to achieve large scale testing, successful contact tracing measures to mitigate spread from new cases, a system of protections for vulnerable communities and the formation of an action plan to mitigate future viral outbreaks.
Odum formerly served as the city's chief recovery officer following Hurricane Harvey.
To accomplish those goals, Odum said he will work with other industry executives, public health officials and the city’s chief resilience officer Marissa Aho in addition to Harris County’s newly appointed recovery leader, Texas State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston.
The announcement came on the first day of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s eased statewide restrictions.
Despite the budding plans to re-open segments of the city’s economy, both Turner and Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said the city’s current case count of 2,928, still warrants strong social distancing measures for the time being.
“We all know this isn’t going to go smoothly,” he said. “We expect there to be some spikes, but what we don’t want to do is overwhelm the health care system.”
The appointment came on the heels of growing demands from some to ease the ongoing burden on the local economy caused by social distancing measures and a drastic dip in oil prices that put the price of a barrel oil in the negatives for the first time ever.
Houston names former Shell Oil Co. President Marvin Odum coronavirus recovery czar
Former Shell Oil Co. President Marvin Odum was named Houston's coronavirus recovery czar April 20. (Screenshot via HoustonTV)