Going for the tried and true, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Monday named former Shell president Marvin Odum to the position of Houston COVID-19 Recovery leader.
Odum was also the first Hurricane Harvey recovery leader appointed by Turner in 2017. Saying Odum had performed to "rave reviews" the last time he led the city's recovery efforts, Turner said Odum will be working with a number of groups including business leaders , non-profit groups, members of the mayor's exectuive team, as well as just-announced Harris County COVID-19 Recovery Czar Armando Walle.
Critical issues, the mayor said, include how to restart the economy, specifically how to send people back to work and the need for robust testing. Odum is also charged with coming up with a plan if the area starts to see an increase in the number of positive cases and developing some way to implement contact tracing so the city knows where the virus is traveling.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Another area of importance will be making sure at-risk, vulnerable populations are not left behind, the mayor said, as well as: "How do we prepare for the next pandemic?"
In turn, Odum pledged to "act as quickly as possible." He said collaboration with other governmental units was key because "We don't want to duplicate work or waste any time."
Following this, Turner introduced Taseer Badar, chairman and CEO of Houston-based ZT Corporate, a private equity firm, who pledged that his company will do its own voluntary testing of all its 1,500 employees to alleviate some of the demands for testing that the city just can't keep up with. He urged other firms of similar size to do the same.
"The virus is not currently under control," Turner said. The Houston Health Department reported 107 more positive cases today and fortunately, no new deaths. The death count in the city remains at 34.