The Associated Press alert came across my phone: “And then Boom: Outbreak shows shaky ground as Texas opens.“
The dateline… Paris, Texas. Paris, Texas??!!
That’s my hometown. What had caused a Coronavirus outbreak in a town of 25,000 people? A rural town in northeast Texas.
As it has happened in other places, it started in a nursing home. Now, according to the AP, sixty five residents of Lamar County are infected.
Texas is reopening for business. Paris, Texas, was ready. Until now, mostly unaffected by the Coronavirus pandemic, Paris is far enough away from Dallas that one would have to make the effort to get over there. When I was a kid, if you wanted to go the the “big city,” you drove a couple of hours to Dallas.
U.S. News and World Report says Coronavirus was “slower to make an impact in much of rural America, but cases and deaths have risen significantly in recent weeks.”
In the case of Paris, Texas, the outbreak was a surprise. The town, like most of Texas, was getting ready to reopen. Business owners were more than ready to get back to normal. The town’s mayor had considered drive-thru testing to give residents peace of mind. Up until now, Coronavirus just wasn’t going to be an issue. “And then boom,” Mayor Steve Clifford said to the AP. “It hits us, like, right between the eyes, and all of a sudden we have this really huge, huge outbreak.”
Paris, Texas, has an Eiffel Tower. A small one, but it is an Eiffel Tower. It has a red cowboy hat on top of it. I have pictures of this. It’s a perfect small town. When I go home to visit, I always go to the Walmart. If you want to see anyone you ever knew in your life, you go to a Walmart. It’s just that kind of place.
Now Paris, like so many other towns, is faced with what to do next. Reopen for business, or re-think the plan? The mayor worries that, “every business in my city is going to go bankrupt and no one will have a job, and then there will be poverty.”
It’s a real concern. In the last six weeks, have seen our country go from thriving economy to recession. It could take years to recover from this.
Will another few days or weeks of quarantine matter? The question has to be asked. Will getting back to normal cause more people to get sick? Not an easy answer for Paris, Texas, or any other place.