For months we've seen the devastating impact of the coronavirus shutdown orders on small businesses and especially bars and restaurants. Now, a new report is putting into perspective the permanent damage being done by the shutdowns. The report published by Yelp examines business closures since the pandemic began in March on a state-by-state basis, and finds Texas second only to California for the number of businesses permanently and temporarily closed.
Specifically, Yelp's analysis finds more than 8,900 Texas businesses have permanently shuttered since March, and another 5,300 have at least temporarily closed since then. Among individual cities, Dallas has the highest number of business closures in the state, followed by Houston.
These shutdowns and closures have already spiked the Texas unemployment rate and hurt state tax revenues, but the impact goes beyond the economy. "This has led to mental health concerns, massive amounts of suicides across the state, people not being checked for cancer, increased heart attacks, and many other health concerns," says Vance Ginn with the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).
Ginn tells KTRH that state and local leaders' reaction to the pandemic has been misguided and unrealistic. "We started with a situation of let's flatten the curve in order to not overwhelm hospital capacity, to now a situation of a zero-COVID cases mentality," he says. "Instead, we need to think about how can we live with COVID-19 while having our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness preserved by government instead of taken away."
Gov. Greg Abbott recently expanded restaurants to 75 percent capacity and is now allowing some bars to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Ginn believes the state can fully reopen responsibly. "We need to be opened up as soon as possible, or we could risk many more businesses failing and many more people losing their job in the process, which would be catastrophic," he says.