Baytown Mayor Brandon Capetillo said a conference call Tuesday between Gov. Greg Abbott and mayors from across the state left an impression of cautious optimism that, if social distancing efforts continue, Texas may have a much better outcome than other states and countries have had with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both infections and deaths continue to trend upward, he said, but the latest projections suggest the peak may be less extreme than earlier
He said his own observation when he has been out shopping is that about half of shoppers appear to be doing a good job of maintaining healthy practices like not shopping in groups, maintaining their distance and wearing masks.
For those who are not, he said, it is imperative that they understand their actions can prolong the virus outbreak and will extend the amount of time before restrictions can be reduced.
While many people are suffering economically—both workers and businesses—he said some businesses seem to be adapting well and that many residents are making a serious effort to support businesses as much as they can afford to.
Both the county and federal government are working to provide assistance.
Much of the conference call with the governor was devoted to discussion of the recovery phase, even though it is still down the road. Some economic recovery efforts will likely be similar to those seen after the 2008 recession.
He said a lot of the post-virus activities will be geared to get people back to work.
Capetillo said he expects funding to address critical infrastructure needs will be part of the stimulus package and said he will continue to focus on trying to get funding to replace the Interstate 10 San Jacinto River Bridge, which is already recognized as a significant need.
He said the city has not received any additional updates from Harris County Public Health since Saturday about the number of confirmed cases in Baytown.
“We will provide any information we have,” he said.
He encouraged residents to continue to be patient and to be flexible. There are no plans in the works for additional restrictions as long as the ones in place continue to be effective.
It will peak at some point, he said, and life can start to return to some kind of normality.
“I think there will be a new normal,” he said. “I think there are just so many things—business-related changes, educational-related changes, even with the City of Baytown in how we operate. There are just things that we are going to have to look at and review about how we operate in a post-virus environment.”