HOUSTON — Former Shell Oil President Marvin Odum has been appointed COVID-19 recovery leader for the city of Houston.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced his decision Monday during a press briefing. He reminded the public Odum served as the city's chief recovery officer following Hurricane Harvey.
"In all sectors, he received rave reviews for the team he assembled, the task force he created and the collaboration that he forged," Turner said in regards to Odum's leadership during Harvey. "Marvin was instrumental in working with local, state and federal partners to secure funding and reform policies. He broke new ground in disaster recovery, and he helped moved Houston forward."
In this new position, Odum will be working with the business sector and nonprofit organizations, as well as leading the city's coronavirus task force, to devise a plan to safely move Houston forward.
"To be clear, this is about keeping people safe and getting people back to work and re-energizing our economy," Odum said. "We have been charged with completing the plans that will reflect that delicate balance between the need to return to work and the necessary vigilance required to keep people safe."
Odum said his goal is to have the city prepared to reopen as soon as possible. But echoing the mayor's concerns, he said it will depend on expanding testing and improving contact tracking. He added his plan will also prioritize inclusion.
"We're bringing together a broad group of stakeholder to ensure this plan reflects all Houstonians. We will need social services, nonprofits, civic and faith leaders, education, and importantly, the business community, all to rally around this plan."
Turner said Houston has managed to flatten the curve but has not reached a peak in the number of coronavirus cases. He reiterated the determining factor in Houston reopening will be the availability of widespread testing.
"This virus is not currently under control," Turner said. "The 'work safe, stay home' order has made a difference. It has saved lives along with social distancing and face coverings."
Harris County Commissioner Lina Hildago announced Monday morning the COVID-19 recover czar, Odum's counterpart, will be Texas Rep. Armando Walle.
Turner confirmed Odum and Walle will be working together in their efforts— both focused on meeting the needs of the city's most vulnerable residents and finding a safe and responsible plan.
"We must be very measured on how we proceed to avoid a resurgence of the virus," Turner said.
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