I know that most of you reading this are expecting to read how terrible, horrible, stupid, etc. the Stay Home, Work Safe order from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is. Because hey, what else is a conservative Republican supposed to say about a decision from someone of the other tribe, right?
Sorry folks, that is not going to happen. And if that bothers you and you huff and puff and leave forever, okay. Don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you.
I learned a long time ago that if you are going to make a decision, it is best to rely upon data when you have it available. And there are boatloads of data suggesting that the order from Judge Hidalgo was a necessary step to take.
I also learned a long time ago that if data isn’t available or if it is new and not comprehensive, that you rely upon experts to give you a sense of which direction to take. And when every expert in the medical community of Harris County is telling you that this is a necessary step to lessen the impact of COVID-19, you take their advice.
This order is not a shelter in place order. The order is very reasonable and doesn’t lock us in our homes. Trust me, it could have been much worse. Think New York or California. In contrast to what we have seen in those states, the order from Judge Hidalgo is very reasonable.
I was hopeful that there would not be a need for an order. Most of the people around me are complying with voluntary social distancing. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to do that. And because of the rate of spread from one asymptomatic carrier to 2-3 others, the spread is very rapid. People keep talking about the low number of cases in our county but they aren’t considering that spread rate.
Perhaps my perspective is skewed because as the mayor of a small town, I have been involved with daily conference calls for the past three weeks with federal, state and county leaders. I have witnessed first hand how this stuff has spread and what happens when leaders ignore data and respond based upon their emotions or their own inflated perception of their wisdom.
This decision is data driven, expert driven and is measured in its scope.
And frankly, I’m tired of the criticism of Judge Hidalgo’s youth and inexperience. I was young once, as were you. In times of crisis, experience isn’t everything. The ability to process information and make critical, tough decisions is far more important. Would it be more soothing to see former County Judge Ed Emmett telling us to hunker down? Sure, I suppose it would because we are conditioned to a patriarchal society and we’ve known him for years and he is calm during a storm.
But you know what? Ed Emmett was young once too. As a young state representative, he made good decisions relying upon data and experts. He is a Rice grad, you know. It would be most helpful if he would make a public statement supporting Judge Hidalgo but perhaps he doesn’t want to take the spotlight. Deep down, I know that he would have made the same decision.
Like I said, I’ve been on daily conference calls with all three levels of government. And I will tell you without hesitation that the county is doing a better job than the federal or state. I’ve talked to both Judge Hidalgo and Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia many times and I know that they have not exaggerated, lied, made false promises and are taking their roles in this very, very seriously.
And as a small town mayor with no experience in handling a pandemic, I appreciate their support and their willingness to help me. So thank you Judge Hidalgo and Commissioner Garcia. The City of Shoreacres appreciates your work and the hard decisions that you have to make.
From Commissioner Garcia:
STATEMENT: PRECINCT 2 COMMISSIONER ADRIAN GARCIA SUPPORTS HARRIS CO. STAY-AT-HOME ORDER
Harris County, TX— In reaction to Judge Lina Hidalgo’s decision to issue a county-wide stay at home order in Harris County, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia releases the following statement:
“Today, Judge Hidalgo is making a true leadership decision. It is a very tough, yet extremely prudent choice, but her compass is to find the best possible path that could wind up saving lives of many Harris County residents. The reason for Judge Hidalgo’s decision is not solely of her choosing, however, and a stay-at-home order in Harris County comes after careful deliberation and counsel from many health care and business leaders. With what we’ve seen in other parts of the country, I agree we can’t afford to delay, and for my Precinct 2 family, I welcome her decision. This is the best hope for Harris County to prevent a widespread disaster, harming all of us that live, work, and play in this county. I strongly support the order from the Judge. Too many of our neighbors’ lives are at stake.”
Greg Degeyter says
Two points I agree with you on:
Hidalgo isn’t making stupid mistakes. Conservatives might disagree with her overall mindset, but every blunder she’s made is more appropriately categorized as a rookie mistake rather than a lack of intelligence.
Just like when Harvey was upon us this isn’t a time to be making political points. People can disagree on the wisdom of the response, but political posturing is counterproductive.
Sally Bartolameolli says
It’s so sad that even now in this international health crisis we are experiencing, that we are still politicizing our communications at every turn.
How about we put politics aside, look at the facts, and think about caring well for ourselves, our families, and our communities?
With so many mentions of data and experts one wonders why no data is provided or experts quoted. I guess we’ll have to trust our surly host.
Fat Albert says
Yeah, the problem with asking for data is that the raw data really doesn’t support the amount of angst in the population, much less the draconian restrictions being foisted upon us by politicians, many of whom have ulterior motives.
Most of the data that we do get has been massaged and shaped in order to deliver the maximum amount of uncertainty and fear. I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s quote: “there are lies, damned lies and statistics.” And, I would add that the worst of all are politicians quoting lies. (Please note that i’m not accusing a single party – they’re all guilty.)
And the contemporary media are at least as self serving. Not only are they consistent supporters of larger, more intrusive government, in this case they have the added motive of massively increasing their audience. Imagine someone going to a network executive and suggesting that they know how to keep tens of millions of people stuck at home and dependent on watching their TV for news and companionship.
The sad thing is that there are plenty of “conservatives” who are passively sitting back and watching it all happen, even lauding those who are asserting martial powers that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
But, if you want some interesting statistics, The current population of Harris county is 4.7 million people. As of tonight there are 79 cases of CoVid-29. That works out to about 1.7 cases per 100,000. That means when you meet a person in the park, there is about a 0.0017 percent chance that they will have corona virus. Now, please note that the current rate for Tuberculosis in Harris County is 7 cases per 100,000. Which means that the person coughing on you in line at the local HEB is 3 times as likely to have TB as Kungflu. And yet, strangely, nobody seems to be worried about TB.
I wonder why. . . . . .
David Jennings says
Google is your friend.
Jeffrey A Larson says
Clearly, at one point, South Korea had a higher infection rate as percentage of the population than Harris County does now. Why didn’t they have to resort to these sorts of measures to beat the disease?
David Jennings says
Hey Jeff, the obvious answer is the difference in out two cultures. And the fact that they did in fact act much faster at implementing their choices.
One problem I have with the order is, why does the government get to decide what is an “essential business” and what isn’t? For example, U-Haul President John “JT” Taylor announced that U-Haul will extend 30 days of free self-storage at U-Haul-owned and -operated facilities to help college students impacted by unforeseen schedule changes at their universities (subject to availability); U-Haul isn’t a gas station or grocery store or pharmacy… but they saw a need and filled it (voluntarily!)
Top-down government decisions to shut down what they deem “non-essential businesses” threatens to have long term effects on the American economy that will be extremely severe. No society can protect public health for a long time at the cost of economic health.
Don Sumners says
vid: As usual you wrote a good story about what you have heard from the government leaders. I understand the reasoning of those who consider the actions taken by some governments such as Houston and Harris County with a very low occurrence of the virus as overkill. Our governor’s actions are more in line with what I think should be undertaken in Texas.
The actions being taken by governments in California, New York and Washington State are more justified. The exposure rates there are much higher. But even there areas of these states are relatively unaffected by the virus. The spread of the virus outside these hot spots should be controlled by travel restrictions.
However, I don’t blame Mayor Turner or Judge Hidalgo for making the decision they did. The infectiousness of this virus seems quite high and there is currently no effective method of fighting the virus for those who are infected. This is a particular problem for the health care and other workers that are regularly exposed to the virus.
The media has definitely over reported this COVID 19 outbreak to the extent much of the public is suffering from unnecessary hysteria. All kinds of crazy claims such as multiple millions of Americans can expect to get the virus have been circulated. I have personally seen this hysteria exhibited at the grocery store.
Having said this, the economy of the country can not be destroyed by over caution to the effects of the virus. It is true that the common flu claims far more victims each year than can be reasonably expected from COVID 19. We do not shut down the country for the flu or TB as has been mentioned. The president is right, at some point the current actions being undertaken by governments to fight the virus must be measured against the damage being done to the nation’s economy. This tradeoff. although painful to consider, is eventually required for this virus just as it is for many other health conditions.
Something to kind in mind regardless of which set of actions you believe should’ve been taken; according to Governor Abbott, until just last week, the maximum number of cases being tested in Texas was under 300 a day. This is out of a state with some 30 million people so claims that only a tiny number of cases have been reported is no indication of how large the population of infected might be, and we’ve seen other countries discover seriously different demographics in play. The economy will bounce back when the crisis is over just as it has in previous events, listening to experts in infectious diseases and acting upon their knowledge makes a great deal more sense than some self important keyboard warrior who thinks he’s also an expert in constitutional law, international politics, or whatever expertise he lacks training for but believes he has despite a complete lack of credentials.
As for the partisan hacks blaming Hidalgo and Turner for the local response, if you are unhappy with that, by all means change the Governor who declared the emergency in the first place and the President who concurred. Also feel free to look up the portions of the health code and Texas Constitution that provide for such responses, I can’t wait to see you self impressed experts in federal court filing the challenges as more testing reveals increasingly large numbers of infected people. I’m with David, Don and Greg on this,