‘We are moving too quickly when it comes to reopening our economy,’ Mayor Turner says

Thomas, a newly elected city council member, Mayor Sylvester Turner, and volunteers handed out about 5,000 face masks at Crump Stadium Saturday. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner expressed his discomfort regarding the reopening plans amid the coronavirus pandemic in a tweet Thursday.

“I do believe we are moving too quickly when it comes to reopening our economy,” Turner wrote on Twitter. “I am concerned that individuals are treating this COVID19 epidemic, especially in underserved communities, as if (it) is over and not basing our decisions on scientific facts.”

Food insecurities in Houston

Turner said even before COVID-19, many communities were already underserved.

“Our underserved communities have been hit hard, especially when it comes to food insecurities and unemployment,” he wrote on Twitter. “To help combat the food insecurities, we are working with many entities to address these issues.”

The city of Houston and several local organizations, including Houston Independent Schol District, Houston Food Bank and Northwest Assistance Ministries, are hosting food drives throughout the Greater Houston area.

Thousands of people have attended these food distributions. Some wait for hours, and in some cases the sites run out of food and supplies. Volunteers and donations are highly appreciated during this period.

Turner also announced the establishment of a task force, responsible for providing COVID-19-related information to underserved communities.

“We are continuing to work to make sure they are not pushed down further than epidemics already have,” he wrote.

Testing in vulnerable communities

Turner noted that Houston is moving in the right direction in terms of adequate testing, which is available free to all residents.

The Houston Health Department has developed a community-based approach that will dramatically increase testing around the city, officials announced at a press conference Thursday. The plan will add over 24 new testing sites by the end of May, starting with vulnerable communities and later expanding to other communities.

Some of the new test sites will include the Melrose Community Center, Lakewood Community Center, and Hobart Taylor Community Center.

“We understand many people want to be tested, but may not have the transportation means to get there,” Turner said. “Today, we announced a plan on how we will get #COVID19 testing sites closer to these communities.”

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