Texas bar owners’ stand on COVID-19 may be their last

Texas bar owners’ stand on COVID-19 may be their last
This is the second in a series of three posts where we use our Social Distancing Scoreboard or SDS, and Retail Insights tool, along with public health data and gubernatorial statements, to examine the effect that long weekends have on COVID-19 infection rates and the rate of recovery in different states. We use both historic and contemporary data points to tell our story: Foot traffic from public beach areas and Retail locations, daily COVID-19 infection rates, and KPIs for Average mobility rates and Non-essential visits, all measured on two milestone dates - May 26th and July 7th 2020 - each the first Tuesday after a holiday weekend celebrated since the pandemic began. 

March 22nd: Shutdown begins

The initial stay-at-home order in Texas was issued April 2 and lifted exactly four weeks later on April 30 when the state recorded 714 new daily cases. This was the same day the world passed 1 million cases total. 

The WHO’s Healthy at Home program began the same day, when Texas recorded a D on the Social Distancing Scoreboard. Over the Memorial Day weekend, Texas beaches in Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Galveston saw 98% more visitors than in 2019. 

May 26th: Post-Memorial Day

Like California, Texas records less than 55% reduction in Non-essential visits, and less than 25% reduction in average mobility over the long weekend. There are 821 new daily cases reported, just 11% more than on shutdown day, but Retail foot traffic is down only 12% vs 2019 and showing a 4% increase over the previous 2 weeks, meaning the stay-at-home message is not resonating in Texas.

On the same date, Texas records a Slow and flat recovery trend. Phases 2 and 3 allow school districts to reopen as early as June 1 and restaurants to operate at full capacity by June 3rd, and 75% capacity by Jun 12th. With daily case numbers rocketing to 2,269, on June 26th Gov. Greg Abbott reinstituted restrictions to bars and gatherings of more than 100. 

July 7th: Post-Independence Day

Over the Independence Day long weekend, Non-essential visits remain stuck at less than 55% reduction versus 2019 levels, as does reduction in average mobility at less than 25%. Retail foot traffic is down 22% vs 2019 and dropping about 10% the previous two weeks, indicating stay-at-home is gaining more compliance in recent days.

While recording a continued F on the Social Distancing Scoreboard and a Stopped recovery trend with downward momentum, Gov. Abbott declares, “Let me tell you, there is no more shutdown coming.” On the same day, Texas reports 10,384 new cases of COVID-19. a stunning 12.5x increase in just six weeks time.

Six weeks before Labor Day 2020

During the week of July 21, Retail foot traffic was down 20% vs 2019 but had actually grown about 1% over the two weeks since Independence Day weekend. Like California, daily new cases routinely exceed 10,000.

Texas now accounts for more than 395,000 cases of COVID-19, marginally trailing only California, Florida, and New York for most cases nationwide. Based on current growth rates, Texas will soon penetrate the top 3.

As of late July, more than 800 Texas bar owners, many in the same heavily-affected beach communities that were crowded over holiday weekends, have vowed to remain open in defiance of the state’s latest shutdown orders. 

Based on the data available, that’s a bad idea that will most likely result in further escalation of infection rates, and will prolong recovery, or perhaps eradicate any recovery that has been made in many business categories, bars included.

If you are interested in a deeper dive into this topic, join our upcoming Neighborhood Insights webinar to learn more. Register now and submit your questions to us directly!

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