HOUSTON – Tiffany Thomas said she wants her constituents to feel safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Thomas, a newly elected city council member, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and volunteers handed out about 5,000 face masks at Crump Stadium and Piney Point Elementary School in southwest Houston on Saturday. The drive-up initiative was apart of citywide efforts to provide residents with facial coverings before the Harris County order takes effect Monday.
Last week, Judge Lina Hidalgo announced all residents above the age of 10 will be required to wear a face mask in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This decision mirrors other U.S. leaders, who made the order as businesses seek to reopen. The judge said a $1,000 fine will be given to those who don’t obey, while Turner said the city’s plan is to equip not fine residents.
NO MORE MASKS!— Tiffany D. Thomas (@TiffanyForAlief) April 25, 2020
Today was a miracle. 3K masks gone in record time. GRATEFUL for volunteers like NOREEN who came out. If you weren't able to get a mask email me DistrictF@houstontx.gov! pic.twitter.com/lVEYjv5n0L
Thomas said her priority is to provide resources to the residents of District F, which includes Alief, Briar Meadow, Piney Point, Tanglewilde, Westchase and Westmont.
“We can’t penalize someone for not having something we didn’t provide," she said.
Accessibility to COVID-19 testing, medical supplies and other resources for District F residents remains to be a concern, Thomas said. District F is one of the furthest from the downtown and city-run testing sites at Bulter Stadium and Delmar Stadium.
Recently, Harris County partnered with Walgreens to open a testing site at Westheimer and Highway 6. As of Sunday, the site was only accepting patients with symptoms and a pre-authorization number.
“It shouldn’t be a hurdle to practice public health,” Thomas said.
Thomas said some pre-existing factors make some residents more exposed.
For example, a large portion of residents in Alief reside in dense housing developments, such as apartments and nursing homes. Households are also often multigenerational, with grandparents, parents, and children all living under the same roof. Alief also represents one of the most diverse communities, comprised mostly of African Americans, Hispanics and Asians. Those factors make populations more at-risk for COVID-19, she said.
While more resources are needed within the district, Thomas said it’s those same characteristics that make the community strong.
“My neighborhood is special because people show up to help without being asked and they take the lead,” Thomas wrote on Facebook. “My neighborhood is special because black, white, yellow, brown, young, and old still want to do their part. It’s a beautiful thing. My neighborhood is special because for so long we were forgotten and now we are on the map.”
CM @TiffanyForAlief held a successful mask distribution drive at @AliefISD’s Crump Stadium. Hundreds of cars lined up for to receive four masks per vehicle and lots of volunteers from her district showed up to assist.— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) April 26, 2020
Thanks for having us present to assist. #MaskUpHOU pic.twitter.com/ajYimlh3DP