Recovery czars in Houston area

The czars, or leaders, were named last week to help guide the Houston area's COVID-19 recovery plan

HOUSTON — In the midst of a crisis deeply impacting his former industry, former Shell Oil President Marvin Odum was tapped as Houston’s COVID-19 “recovery czar.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Armando Walle is serving as his unpaid Harris County counterpart.

"Having these roles, staying well-coordinated over a local area, is very important to the pace and quality of the recovery,” Odum said.

"The job entails trying to harness working with nonprofits, with the business community, faith-based community to figure out, 'OK, what are the needs?'” Walle said. "And we’ve done a good job of assessing those needs.”

Walle pointed to the $15 million in Coronavirus relief passed just this week by Harris County Commissioners Court and to both governments assisting folks struggling with everything from unemployment to rent payments.

"We’re pretty much in lock-step in trying to respond to this crisis," Walle said. "Again, unprecedented, no playbook to this.”

Odum does have the advantage of having served as the city's recovery leader following Hurricane Harvey.


And he quickly identified reopening the economy in a responsible manner as a top priority this time around.

"The success of opening the economy in this phased, risk-based way, is that we need to make sure there’s sufficient testing out there for a person to know whether or not they have been infected," Odum said. "And if they have been infected, we have to have sufficient tracking in place to help contain that to a small area.”

Neither Odum nor Walle could say how long their missions might last.

But getting business and other sectors safely moving again seems to be their shared goal.

"And I just want to supplement, not supplant, supplement the work that’s already being done,” Walle said.

RELATED: Ex-Shell Oil President Marvin Odum appointed Houston COVID-19 recovery leader

RELATED: Texas Rep. Armando Walle named Harris County COVID-19 recovery czar

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