“Houston, we have a problem,” and so does SWLA, according to economic development alliance

"Houston, we have a problem," say economic developers in SWLA due to soaring covid infections

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The governor of Texas says his state has taken a “swift and very dangerous turn.” Cases are soaring. It’s now a dangerous new epicenter for COVID-19.

Harris County, which includes Houston, will require all employees and customers inside businesses to keep wearing face masks until at least August 26th.

That county has reported more than 30,000 cases, and nearly 400 deaths.

So, if you were in Texas, would you think about heading to Louisiana for the 4th of July weekend?

No one knows if more Texans may head this way, but given Southwest Louisiana’s close connection with Houston, a local business leader has some advice.

“Houston, we have a problem,” says the headline on the SWLA Economic Development Alliance newsletter, and ”So does Southwest Louisiana,” the article goes on to say.

With Lake Charles’ proximity to Houston and increase in Covid cases, Alliance President and CEO George Swift says it’s better for business if local people take personal responsibility to help bring the virus down.

“What we want to do here at the alliance is to encourage businesses to be operating properly, wearing masks and urging that the customers wear a mask so that we can continue to remain open. Number one of course, is to save lives and keep folks from being sick, but secondly, we want the businesses in this economy to grow and the way we can do that is to wear a mask, be responsible, maintain social distancing,” said Swift.

Texans are major patrons of Southwest Louisiana casinos and Swift points out other ties.

“We’re tied to Houston with the corporate headquarters from our petrochemical industry and we have a lot of softball and baseball teams coming from Texas playing here. So, there’s a big cross back and forth between Houston, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Southwest Louisiana.”

With the increasingly dire situation in their home state, Texans are asked to wear a mask, wash hands, social distance and stay home there, if they can. If they head to Louisiana, Swift hopes they’ll do the same here.

“We’re not trying to urge people do something that is harmful. We’re trying to keep people from getting sick and getting other people sick,” he said.

So far, no word of plans to do as Texas did, when Louisiana’s numbers were higher, when some from Louisiana were stopped at the border and warned they must quarantine in Texas.

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