As State Reopens, COVID-19 Risks Grow For West Texas

Tourists, attracted to the beauty of Big Bend, could bring COVID-19 with them from urban areas where the virus is more prevalent.

By Rhonda FanningMay 6, 2020 7:20 am, ,

Parts of Texas that depend on visitors for survival face new risks, as parks and businesses begin reopening. Loosening of shelter-in-place orders could bring tourists, along with coronavirus cases, to places where the pandemic’s effects haven’t yet been felt. 

Dr. Ekta Escovar practice mdicine at Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine, She’s a member of the local coronavirus task force, which is part of the health authority for Brewster County. She told Texas Standard host David Brown that the county identified one COVID-19 case, after a mobile testing unit came through the area last week. 

Escovar says the reopening of gyms and salons, which the state is allowing beginning this Friday, presents a risk of virus transmission. 

“[Gyms] tend to be places that collect sweat and wetness on all of the equipment,” Escovar said. 

Hair salons, where workers must be in close proximity to clients, also present a transmission risk.

Tourists coming to the Big Bend area are another COVID-19 risk factor.

“Most of our tourists come from large urban areas,” Escovar said. “[They] are wanting to come out and enjoy the outdoors, and it’s our urban areas right now that are jam-packed with COVID-19 cases. So we’re worried that as movement across the state picks up, as the state begins to reopen, we are going to get travelers bringing cases into our area.”

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.


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