‘We need some help:’ Corpus Christi official asks tourists not to visit beaches amid COVID-19 surge

Corpus Christi, which thrives off tourism, may be a hotspot because of it

People visit the beach in Corpus Christi near Bob Hall Pier on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times)

SAN ANTONIO – On Monday, Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales issued a request she said was “almost unthinkable” — asking tourists to stay home instead of visiting the beaches of Corpus Christi.

Canales made the plea to out-of-towners Monday during an interview with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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“For the next few weeks… the coast is just not clear to come home to right now. Please do everything you can to help us stabilize. We are not stable — we are in a free fall — and we need some help from Texas,” Canales told the newspaper.

In recent weeks, Corpus Christi has become a COVID-19 hotspot, and local officials worry it might be due to tourism.

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Texas A&M University Corpus Christi researchers analyzed cellphone data recorded over two recent holidays — Memorial Day and Independence Day.

On Memorial Day, the data suggests roughly 11,200 people traveled to Corpus Christi. The majority, roughly 2,900 people, came from San Antonio, according to the newspaper.

Over Fourth of July weekend, roughly, 9,500 people visited. The majority came from San Antonio again, with roughly 1,600 visitors.

“I need to get people to understand that they are hurting our community, when they’re going to the beaches on the weekend — you know, in the tens of thousands,” Canales told the Caller-Times. “It’s just not working for us. It’s working against us.”

In Corpus Christi, the cell phone data showed movement “returned to pre-pandemic levels by early June,” according to the New York Times.

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“When I saw that, I knew it wasn’t a good sign,” Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi professor Christopher Bird told the New York Times.

Canales is not the only official who has told tourists to stay home. Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb expressed similar sentiments to the New York Times.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be telling tourists, ‘Don’t come to our beaches.’”

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