'Flatten the curve again’: Judge Hidalgo, Mayor Turner say recent spike in COVID-19 cases puts Houston-area at Threat Level 2

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a new system coronavirus threat level system that would help residents know what they need to do to avoid spreading the virus.

The system, which was paid for by funding from FEMA the CARES Act, breaks down threat levels in four tiers that are color-coded. Hidalgo said the system was designed so residents could break through the noise of all the information available on coronavirus and case trends. She said the system would allow residents to know exactly what they needed to do to continue to avoid spreading coronavirus.

At present, Harris County is at Threat Level 2, Hidalgo said. At this level, while residents don’t need to strictly stay home at all times, they are advised to minimize all contact with other people as there is still a significant and uncontrolled level of coronavirus spread in the county.

Here’s a breakdown of the levels and what residents should do during each level:

Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System
Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System (KPRC)

Officials said the Houston-area trends showed that “flattening the curve” progressed nicely until the end of April. After that, once Texas began reopening and people began coming in contact with each other for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and for summer activities, trends showed a second spike.

“We may be on the precipice of disaster,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo said that hospitalizations due to coronavirus were at their highest-ever and while ICU bed capacity was also higher than normal in the area, the spike wasn’t as severe as compared to general bed capacity. Certain hospitals like Ben Taub and LBJ were more saturated with coronavirus patients than others, she said.

Local officials said they no longer had the ability to issue executive orders asking residents to stay home if there was a significant spike in coronavirus cases.

“In March and April, we had the ability to hit the breaks. We no longer have the ability to hit the breaks,” Turner said. “That’s controlled now totally by the state.”

As a result, the Harris County Coronavirus Threat Level System seeks more to inform and advise residents than enforce rules.

“I’m not going to say ‘I can’t issue an order so let it be,'” Hidalgo said.

Watch the full press conference below:

WATCH LIVE: Judge Hidalgo, Mayor Turner to announce county’s new COVID-19 threat level system BLOG: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/06/10/announcement-on-future-of-harris-county-stay-home-work-safe-order-expected-soon/

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, June 11, 2020

Read the full community guidelines from the Harris County Public Health Department below:

See a blog of the news conference below:

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