Mark Cuban Is Investigating Dallas Businesses' Coronavirus Compliance

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is staying busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is staying busy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

The Mavericks may be on indefinite hiatus, but Mark Cuban, the team's owner, is still finding interesting ways to make news during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuban's still paying the Mavericks' hourly employees, even though the American Airlines Center's empty. He's been one of the leading voices on how the NBA might get players back on the court, and questioned whether Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen Texas would work for businesses or the state's residents. While the NBA is allowing teams to return to practice slowly, Cuban said this week that he has no plans to open the Mavericks' practice gym.

Over the weekend, the first since Abbott's reopening orders went into effect, Cuban decided to use some of his considerable fortune to look into just how well local businesses were following the social distancing and cleaning routines that are supposed to come with getting back to business.

As detailed on his blog, Cuban hired an army of secret shoppers to call 1,000 businesses and see the extent to which they planned to reopen. Then Cuban's team went to 300 locations in Dallas to see how they were handling things.

Cuban's survey found that only 36% of Dallas' businesses elected to open back up as soon as they could. Businesses that did open, the secret shoppers found, were not following Abbott's reopening suggestions.

According to Cuban, 96% of Dallas' open businesses failed to completely meet the governor's protocols for reopening. Shoppers found that about a third of businesses were abiding by less than 50% of Abbott's guidelines for businesses.

On average, according to Cuban, businesses followed about 60% of mandatory protocols issued by the governor and 54% of his suggestions for reopening.

"Overall, there is a wide discrepancy amongst individual-level performance by location type," Cuban wrote on his blog. "We have the data ready for hundreds of locations and will have it for all ~800 visits across the rest of the month. I think trending the same-location compliance across multiple visits will be a critical addition to show improvement over time."

According to Cuban, compliance varies highly even among businesses owned by the same corporation.

"This is really interesting because a larger parent corporation would be highly concerned with variable degrees of compliance amongst their corporate-owned restaurants and would push for standardization and measurement, not dissimilar from regular mystery shopping and performance auditing workflows," he writes.

Compliance with Texas' coronavirus orders has become a heated, political issue. Thursday, two days after a Dallas County district judge sent a hair salon owner to jail for seven days after she ignored an order to shut her business down, Abbott decreed that no one would face jail time for failing to follow his orders.

Texas Republicans, led by Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz, made the salon owner, Shelley Luther, a cause célèbre among conservatives this week, calling out the judge who sentenced her, Eric Moye, and Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot, a Democrat who had nothing to do with the civil case.

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