As Texas Businesses Reopen, Nurses Urge Leaders to Rely on Data

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Starting Friday, retailers can start selling items for curbside pickup, restrictions on surgeries will be relaxed and state parks can unlock their gates. It’s all a part of Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the economy. Still, those on the frontlines urge Texans not to let down their guards.

Cindy Zolnierek is CEO of the Texas Nurses Association. She said the outlook is not hopeless.

“We have nurses that are still caring for these very sick patients. But the good news is we’re not spiking upward,” she said.

With news of the curve flattening, the conversation is shifting to talks of reopening the Texas economy. Zolnierek, also a registered nurse, said she understands but warns we can’t yet call this a victory.

“So naturally, when it looks like things are being contained, naturally the conversation shifts to the economy. And what’s important is that we remain cautious,” said Zolnierek.

She said testing is still important and talks of reopening public and social spaces only underscores the need for more resources. Then there are PPEs, the equipment used to keep healthcare workers safe. Masks have been produced and companies have stepped up, but Zolnierek said healthcare workers are running through those supplies quickly and hospitals are still finding ways to stretch what they have.

“You need to keep in perspective when we hear that we have millions of masks being produced or provided, we have hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers that are using them and burning through them at a much faster rate than we ever have before,” she said. “We are seeing masks being reused, and that’s uncomfortable for a lot of nurses because that’s not our standard practice.”

As the governor moves toward reopening, Zolnierek said work on containing the virus must continue. Those up close and personal with our most critical patients are counting on government leaders to make well-informed decisions.

“I think what’s key for nurses and other healthcare professionals is that we have assurance that this is done cautiously and that we’re paying attention to the data,” she said.

Zolnierek said she’s encouraged to hear Governor Abbott has been advised by researchers, epidemiologists, and other healthcare workers as he moves forward with his plan. Abbott said another announcement about the next phase of reopening Texas businesses is expected within the next few days.

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