Houston parks remain open through Easter weekend but mayor urges no egg hunts, gatherings

Mayor Sylvester Turner (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner announced dozens of new cases and an additional coronavirus-related death Wednesday at a press conference at Minute Maid Park.

As of Wednesday, 60 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, bringing the city’s total to 1,320. He said an African American woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions died from the coronavirus on April 5.

Turner said eight out of the 12 deaths are African American, two Hispanic and two white, all with underlying health issues.

He said the good news is, more testing is becoming available with the help of the federal government.

See other updates made during the press conference:

Hospital capacity

Turner said 33% of ICU beds are occupied by non-COVID-19 patients and 25% ICU beds are occupied by coronavirus patients. He noted that the city’s hospitals are still within capacity. As long as personal protective equipment and max social distancing in order, the city can handle the number of incoming patients during its peak, he said.

Houston Fire Department update

HFD Chief Sam Pena said a fire captain hospitalized due to the coronavirus is still in ICU but not on a ventilator and is making a recovery.

A total of 10 firefighters have recovered, 78 have been tested and 36 are waiting on results in quarantine.

The fire department has received more than 1,000 responses to complaints about facilities violating the stay home order, but Pena said most places have been in compliance and only one was cited.

Houston Police Department update

Executive Assistant Police Chief Matt Slinkard noted that although more than 100 officers are in quarantine, the workforce is still strong. Slinkard said 135 officers have been tested with 27 positive cases, 54 negative and 50 awaiting results.

He gave an update on the officer who is currently in ICU fighting for his life due to the coronavirus, saying that his condition has not worsened but it also has not improved.

Will city parks close?

Turner said the city parks are still open but discouraged social gatherings. He said if a park is crowded, leave and go to another. He also gave park rangers permission to close city parks if people are not practicing social distancing.

Getting back to work

Turner said the city will be guided by facts, advice and noted that officials are all ready for things to go back normal.

He said the more Houstonians practice social distancing and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the more cases decrease and eventually we will get back to normal.

Turner said he understands Easter weekend is coming up but asks that Houstonians not gather at parks or set up egg hunts.

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