But it can also generally be used to mean finishing what you started. And I think the term fits here in Fort Bend County as the battle against COVID-19 rages on. What I’m getting at is that while I believe most everyone in the county, from elected officials to residents, has done a whale of a job during all of this, we can’t let the state’s reopening distract us from the end goal – beating this virus.
In about six weeks since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire and businesses to reopen beginning May 1, the number of reported positive cases in Fort Bend County more than doubled from 1,133 on May 1 to 2,402 as of Tuesday morning.
Much of that can certainly be attributed to the increased testing in the county – with 13,955 tests conducted at its testing sites since May 2 compared to just 3,960 through May 1 – but it’s still worth noting. Last week, the county sported about a 10.6 percent positive test rate, with 268 cases out of 2,537 tested. That’s lower than the overall rate of 13.4 percent, and there were three straight days heading into last weekend with rates in single digits – some positive signs.
But just like in sports, it could all be for naught if we don’t finish the job. The virus is still hanging around us in the Greater Houston region, and we need to tread lightly.
On the whole, I think Fort Bend County residents – at least in my experience – have done a phenomenal job in doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus strain. Whenever I’ve covered large-scale events during the pandemic such last week’s Black Lives Matter protest in Sugar Land or Saturday’s PPE drive in Missouri City, I have seen most – if not all – in attendance adhering to social distancing guidelines. If social distancing is not possible, the majority have worn masks.
And while it may seem like overkill to some I’ve spoken with, I’m not so sure it is anymore.
That may sound strange coming from someone who previously said in this space that he wasn’t going overboard on the precautions, I’ll admit.
But this thing has been unpredictable almost from the start, so I’ve changed my tune a little bit due to its evolving nature and a stark realization.
While I can maybe fight off anything I come into contact with, it’s not just about me. My best friend for more than a decade and his wife, who I hang out with on at least a weekly basis, are expecting a newborn son here in the next week or so. My parents, who are 58 and 68 years old, are part of a group that is at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.
That’s what this is about – not just our own personal health, but those around us. For the last few months, any time I’ve had any small get together, I’ve had to distance myself from my family for at least two weeks to ensure I don’t pass anything along to them. It will be the same in a couple of weeks with my friend’s newborn, which is due about the time I’m scheduled to have a small gathering for another friend’s bachelor party.
Wearing a mask is certainly cumbersome, and having to spend time apart from those I care about the most is insanely difficult at times. But if that’s the small price I have to pay to ensure I don’t potentially infect those I love? I’ll take the tradeoff every time.
And I think that’s a mindset that would benefit everyone in Houston and Fort Bend County, both in the short and long-term.
I have friends who work in or run businesses that had to partially or completely shut down due to the stay-at-home order. I know the economy needed a boost, so I was largely in agreement with the decision to begin slowly reopening over the last six weeks. I also completely understand the desire to resume normal life – whatever that looks like at this juncture – as soon as possible. There are no words to describe how mad I almost got just working from home a couple of days per week since this whole thing started, so I can only imagine what those who were stuck longer feel.
And I get the resistance to wearing masks, especially in the middle of summer in Texas – those things feel hot as an oven after just a few breaths.
But this virus is still hanging around the Houston region and even making a strong comeback in the City of Houston and Harris County, which includes some portions of Missouri City. So we’re not out of the woods just yet, and I think we still need to operate as though it could make a comeback in Fort Bend if we’re not careful.
I think we’re still at least several months away from truly getting back to any semblance of normalcy, which seems excruciatingly long to many of us. But we’ve got to hold on. In recent weeks, countries like New Zealand have completely reopened after having zero remaining active cases.
That’s the goal. So please wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing, Fort Bend. We’re bearing down on the opponent’s goal line – let’s punch it in.