What Shelter in Place Orders?
In the last two weeks, with the exception of the two trips I took to the hospital, I haven’t left my house. I had to, we needed toilet paper. Since Tarrant county is supposed to be under a shelter in place, I was expecting to see a few cars on the road. Or perhaps a person or two jogging. However, two days into our shelter in place orders, I wasn’t prepared to see the number of people out and about. Traffic was a little light, but there wasn’t a much noticeable difference than any other day. That’s because, in Texas, nearly everyone is an essential employee.
Which Businesses are Considered Essential?
According to these Dallas County guidelines, essential businesses are healthcare, government, businesses related to critical infrastructure. (This includes plumbers, electricians, janitors, and lawn care services), auto mechanics, as well as essential retail, like food and liquor stores, and child care.
Texas, the only state in the nation where you can’t buy booze on a Sunday, but you sure as hell can get liquored up during the apocalypse.
So, that leaves us wondering. If everyone is considered essential? Who exactly is non-essential?
Pawnshops? Nope, guess again. I’ve been looking into it. Since they provide money to people for pawned items, they are now considering themselves ‘financial institutions.’ Many of them have even posted signs outside of their businesses claiming they are open.
Car dealerships? They’re all still open, too. I called around to check. Since they all have auto repair on-site they too, are also essential. Since their mechanics are working, so are their salesmen. Many of them were more than happy to tell me that I could still come and purchase a car, but by appointment only. (I’m guessing that way there is less risk of them being caught)
Call centers? This one may be a hit or miss, depending on what the call center does, sells, or services. If it’s not related to an essential service or products, you better believe they may find a way to claim it is.
Retail not related to food and essential items, churches, and schools. As far as I can tell, that’s all that’s closed.
Every other business has some type of critical function, claims to have a critical function, or is stretching this essential business claim to fit their needs.
Why it Matters
As of right now, 3-26-20 2 pm, there are currently 1,426 known COVID-19 positive people in Texas. These are people who were likely infected up to two weeks ago. With the speed at which this virus spreads, in another week or two, those numbers will grow exponentially. Very little has changed in Texas with social distancing and shelter in place. We likely won’t see much of a flattening of the curve here.
New York’s infection and death numbers could be a sign of things to come here. Reports of our neighbors in Louisiana already meeting their hospital capacity this week, we may not be far behind.
There are nearly 29 million people in Texas. While some of our fellow Texans in far rural areas may be able to avoid this virus completely, 20 million of us live in largely populated areas. There are 20 million people in the combined DFW, Houston area, Austin area, San Antonio area, and El Paso area.
As worst-case scenarios estimate this virus could kill as many as 1.7 million Americans and hospitalize another 21 million more. With Texas lagging behind other states with their pandemic-response, the Lone Star State could soon resemble Italy.