Judges not currently hearing eviction cases, but Hidalgo says she will make an order if needed

Hidalgo (Texas Tribune)

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo during an interview with the Texas Tribune on Friday said she has heard stories of landlords harassing renters about paying their bills. She said she understands landlords are being pinched in the pandemic as well, but said judges are currently not hearing eviction cases but she will make an order if needed.

Hidalgo said landlords also need to understand that everyone is suffering right now and asks them to help their residents during this pandemic.

During the interview she addressed some of the county’s most pressing coronavirus issues including public health, the impact of the county’s “stay home, work safe” order on the local economy and how county residents are adapting to these new challenges.

On March 24, Hidalgo issued an order requiring all Harris County residents to stay in their homes as much as possible as the state grapples with the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

“All of us should stay home unless our jobs are essential for the health and safety of our community,” Hidalgo said. “We are taking all of this one step at a time.”

The order also closed most businesses except those deemed essential, such as grocery stores and hospitals. On Monday, a group of Houston-area pastors and an outspoken conservative activist filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court arguing that the order, which also closed churches and limited worship services to video or teleconference calls, violates the First Amendment.

Hidalgo said the “stay home and work safe” order was made because the county had to stay ahead of the virus. She said when they looked at the rate of growing cases, they needed to ensure hospitals will have enough beds available.

“We are fighting a ghost,” Hidalgo said about the coronavirus and the pandemic it is causing.

In regards to coronavirus testing, Hidalgo said that testing is important but that it is not a treatment for the virus. She said the county’s testing for the virus is under reporting because they still do not have enough tests.

Hidalgo also addressed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to add religious services to essential services by saying the county is making sure its order does not conflict with the governor’s order.

Hidalgo said the order will not be lifted right now because too many people are congregating in malls and other public areas. She said the county is looking at other states and cities as examples of how to go about lifting orders but said she is confident the county will get through the pandemic eventually.

You can watch a reply of the stream below:

Discussing the effects of COVID-19 with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

We’re live with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo to discuss public health during the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of the county’s “Stay Home, Work Safe” order on the local economy and more. Tune in here.

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Friday, April 3, 2020

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