Six Texas Mayors Discuss COVID and Race Relations During Texas Tribune Festival

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price were part of the discussion moderated by Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith    

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As part of the Texas Tribune Festival, the Texas Tribune CEO moderated a forum of six Texas Mayors. They included the Mayors of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso. COVID-19 was the first subject.

“The cases are definitely moving in a better direction, but we have learned, all of us on this conversation, every mayor here has learned the hard way that this virus is unpredictable,” said Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.  

Johnson addressed concerns about having enough hospital beds to handle the crisis.

“Capacity here has been excellent. It is just a credit to a hospital system that we have had in place for some time between our county hospital and of course the university hospital and the private hospitals,” said Johnson.

The mayors have been in contact with each other.

“When the mask order first went into place, and we were given the ability to decide that, we all got on the phone, made the decision and 75% of the people in Texas were covered under the masks orders the six or seven of us did,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

They all agree on the importance of masks.

Another big concern was the economics of it all. Price believes it will be ongoing.

“This is a long term stretch for cities. We are going to see property tax off probably for the next three to four years, as we deal with vacancies from our large businesses who are leaving people at home, or are shrinking their workforce,” said Price.

Smith also talked to the group about the national conversation about race and the justice system.

“We’ve been talking about this a long time because these types of situations, like what happened to Mr. Floyd, have been happening for a long time. But why are we getting traction now? Why is the conversation seeming to be more well-received in more corners of our society now, and I have to think that ironically it has to do with the fact that we are in the middle of this pandemic, and so many people are being left alone with their thoughts. There is so little to distract us right now we have nothing to do but confront this issue, and there is no place else to look but in the mirror,” said Johnson.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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