More COVID-19 modeling and tracing needed before reopening, doctor says

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We're just days away from malls, restaurants and movie theaters opening back up at 25 percent occupancy.

They will have to follow specific requirements, like wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

SEE MORE: Texas Reopening: Gov. Abbott lays out his plan

Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said while the reopening may help the economy, we must also consider our health.

"At the state level, the governor put a lot of plans in place and assembled a great team for our economic recovery, but it's still not adequately linked to our public health recovery. Therefore, our economic recovery will not be sustainable until that's put in place," said Hotez.

WATCH LIVE: Dr. Hotez gives his thoughts on Texas reopening on Friday
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Contagious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez warns Houston "is in the eye of a hurricane."



While businesses are taking steps to wear mask and practice social distancing, Hotez said other steps should be taken too. He said we should be modeling what we can expect in the coming weeks and months with diagnostic testing, tracing where the virus came from and also tracking the virus to identify hot spots, called syndromic surveillance.

He said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is on the right track, but we need to do more.

"The ideas she's put in place are good ones. I'm not confident we have the scale yet to know that this will be adequate for the fourth largest city in the United States," Hotez said.

If you do plan to venture out to a restaurant, Hotez suggests you think about.

"It depends who you are too. I'm over the age of 60, and we know this virus is really tough on people over the age of 60. We know this virus is tough on people with underlying conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. So if you are somebody with no risk factors, you still might to think twice about doing it anyway," Hotez said.

Hotez said the risk is significant that we will see a resurgence of the virus. He added that it's hard to say when, but it could happen during the late summer or in the fall.

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