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Houston mayor: Leaders ‘thinking through’ next steps of coronavirus response

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday he and other leaders across the region are “thinking through” the next steps of the area’s coronavirus response.

Turner said that while there is no shelter-in-place order in effect for Houston, people should continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible.

“The reality is, is that you don’t want to do something, for example, that’s a total economic shutdown,” Turner said. “People and their livelihoods are totally, totally disrupted. That can be, in some cases for many people, can be worse than the virus itself.”

Houston mayor coronavirus update

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner provides update about coronavirus response.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, March 23, 2020

The remarks come just hours after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she is in conversations with Turner and judges from neighboring counties to determine how such a stay-at-home measure would be executed should it be issued. She said officials are doing their “due diligence” before deciding whether such an order would be issued.

“It may be that we issue a stay-at-home order or something of the sort,” Hidalgo said. “We will make an announcement as soon as we are done running things down and making sure that we’re making the decision in the way that it needs to be made.”

Harris County coronavirus update

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo talks about county's coronavirus response.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, March 23, 2020

The statement comes after a shelter-in-place order was issued for Dallas County. While announcing the measure, the judge in that county said that Harris County would follow suit “very soon.”

Jenkins said that he had spoken with Hidalgo and that Harris County is “committed to doing the same."

“While I know what we must do, the powers at my disposal cannot do it without all of you,” Jenkins said. “And, for that matter, we cannot do it without at least our regional partners.”

Turner said he had some problems with the Dallas County order, which contained a “laundry list” of exceptions to the order. He said he expects a decision on whether such an order would be issued for Houston within the next day.

“What we’re all trying to do is strike that balance," Turner said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday he is leaving decisions on these types of orders to local leaders.

"What may be right for places like the large urban areas may not be right at this particular point of time for the more than 200 counties that have zero cases of COVID-19," Abbott said.

As of Monday morning, there have been 51 cases of coronavirus reported in Harris County and 23 cases reported in the city of Houston.

There hve been more than 170 COVID-19 cases reported in the Greater Houston area.

Here is the Dallas County shelter-in-place order:

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