Increasing number of COVID-19 cases could mean more lockdowns in Texas

Nick Natario Image
Saturday, November 14, 2020
El Paso COVID-19 ruling could impact Houston
A court decision on El Paso County's shut down order in the midst of skyrocketing COVID-19 cases could impact Houston and other corners of Texas down the line.

RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK) -- Court cases and discussions from the new presidential administration could bring future lockdowns in Texas.

Months after stay-at-home mandates were lifted in Texas, cooks at La Cocina in Richmond are seeing more orders pour in.

"We're seeing people coming back," La Cocina owner Andres Novoa explained. "They want to dine inside."

Novoa said he's now worried how much longer it'll last.

With rising coronavirus cases, and the governor's no shutdown orders challenged in court, he's anticipating the restaurant will go back to curbside only.

"We have a great community that has helped us, supported us, and we're going to need their support, more than ever now, if we go back to these lockdowns," Novoa said.

In El Paso, the county judge issued a five week shutdown, although that goes against a state order.

A decision whether the lockdown can take place could come Friday from an appeals court.

ABC13 legal expert Steve Shellist said the decision will only impact the El Paso area, but if it goes to the state Supreme Court, which would be next, it could impact the Houston area.

"Whatever the Texas Supreme Court says, that's something that Harris County is going to have to listen to for sure," Shellist explained.

Shellist said if the Supreme Court looks at the case, it should happen quickly. He's not sure a county judge's lockdown will override the governor's order.

"I think right now, the state is on more solid ground based on my experience and the cases I've seen. But again, these are very strange times," Shellist said.

If the decision was ruled in order of the county judge, it could mean a lockdown in our area.

On Thursday, during her state of the county address, Judge Lina Hidalgo said rising coronavirus case numbers may mean a pause, or a "pull-back" may be necessary.

This week, one of President-elect Joe Biden's advisor's floated the area of a national shutdown lasting six weeks.

On Friday, another advisor clarified that the administration wants to focus on hot spots.

"We're not in a place where we say shut the whole country down," Vivek Murthy explained. "We've got to be more targeted."

The Texas Restaurant Association warns future lockdowns could have a devastating impact on eateries. So far, 15% have permanently closed.

The agency fears the number will drastically increase by spring 2021.

"We expect that number could grow to as high as 40%, depending on what this winter looks like." Texas Restaurant Association vice president of government relations and advocacy, Kelsey Erickson-Streufert explained.

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