The data is in and the implications are clear: Texas has flattened the curve and prevented the COVID-19 pandemic from taking more lives. Our state hasn’t come anywhere close to seeing a run on hospitals, demonstrating our system is more than capable of handling anyone who contracts the disease. Now is the time to reopen the Texas economy and let Texans get back to work.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has taken prudent initial steps to ensure that the “cure”—the shutdown in economic activity, necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus—isn’t worse than the disease. In allowing much of the economy (including retail and restaurants, with limits) to restart on May 1, and expanding that to include hair salons, barbers and gyms (again, with limits), the governor has shown he understands that shutting down commerce in Texas was always a tradeoff.
It’s time to allow even more Texans to go back to work. We can save lives by protecting the most vulnerable among us—the elderly and the immunocompromised—and we can save livelihoods by allowing all businesses to open.
Here’s the data. A new study shows that a targeted lockdown is the most efficient means mitigating both the damage done by the coronavirus and the harm caused by the shutdown itself.
“Americans are paying a fearsome price for the government’s strict lockdowns of American life and commerce, and now comes evidence that targeted lockdowns aimed at protecting those who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus would be better for public health and the economy,” the Wall Street Journal reports, citing a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research by MIT economists Daron Acemoglu, Victor Chernozhukov, Iván Werning and Michael Whinston.
“Interestingly, we find that semi-targeted policies that simply apply a strict lockdown on the oldest group can achieve the majority of the gains from fully-targeted policies,” the study says. “For example, a semi-targeted policy that involves the lockdown of those above 65 until a vaccine arrives can release the young and middle-aged groups back into the economy much more quickly, and still achieve a much lower fatality rate in the population (just above 1% of the population instead of 1.83% with the optimal uniform policy).”
In his Tuesday press conference, the governor pointed out that not all data is informative. The number of COVID-19 cases, for example, doesn’t really tell us anything about how far the disease has spread. Instead, it demonstrates how many Texans we’re testing.
But one meaningful statistic is how many of those tested are shown to have COVID-19.
“The percentage of people tested who test positive for COVID-19 on April 20 was 7.2 percent,” Gov. Abbott said. “Now it’s 4.65 percent.”
That shows Texans have taken the precautions necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus—and can be trusted to continue to do so.