COVID-19 task force member says Texas has hit 'watershed moment'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the past four and a half months, a Houston attorney and businessman has been quietly leading the charge on safety protocols for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

"We're at kind of a watershed moment, and I think we will be until we see the number of cases come down," said Marc Watts.

As president of The Friedkin Group, his daily grind has turned from sales numbers to COVID-19 cases.

"The number of new cases in the 9-county area, the greater Houston area, have been, over the last week, between 2,000 and 3,000 new cases a day, and that's too many," said Watts.

Watts is a member of the 40-person Strike Force to Open Texas created by Gov. Greg Abbott and is the Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership's COVID-19 Task Force.

He said it's going to take a collective conscious effort to reduce the uncontrolled spread of the disease and keep the economy running.

"We've got a high level of community spread, despite everyone's best efforts," he said. "I think we have way too many cases out in the community."

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Like so many at home, Watts is concerned about the ever-growing rate of positive cases in Houston and delay in testing results.
This Aggie and Harvard Law School grad is doubling down on mandates to wear a mask, social distance and scale back on family gatherings.

"For obvious reasons, people crave social intimacy. You want to see your friends, you want to see your large family, and you certainly want to see your grandkids. But you just have to be extra careful and just because they happen to be related to you or your friends does not mean they can't transmit the virus."

Ever the business man at heart, he believes we can gain control of the current spread without a second stay-at-home order, but warns it will take a drastic effort.

"We cannot stay at levels this high so if these social distancing measures don't have the effect that we hope they do have, then we'll have to do something else, and there's not a lot of other things that can be done."

His best advice for businesses is if you can keep employees working from home, do so for as long as possible.

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