Here’s a breakdown of the COVID-19 threat levels in Harris County

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HOUSTON – “We may be on the precipice of disaster,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Thursday as she announced a new system to help residents understand the threat level of coronavirus in the Houston area.

In a joint press conference, Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner explained the new system that 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.

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

Level 1 (Red): Stay home

  • This means there’s a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County
  • There are outbreaks that are actively getting worse and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded.
  • What to do: Minimize contact with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine

Level 2 (orange): Minimize all contact

  • This means there’s a significant and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County
  • The virus is still actively spreading but contact tracing capacity is likely sufficient to meet demand
  • What to do: Minimize contact with others, avoiding any medium or large gatherings and only visiting permissible businesses that follow public health guidance

Level 3 (yellow): Stay vigilant

  • There is a moderate, but controlled level of COVID-19 in Harris County
  • There’s a demonstrated reduction in the spread of the virus and the local healthcare system is within capacity
  • What to do: Residents should remain vigilant, but resume contact with others and resume leaving home

Level 4 (green): Resume normal activity

  • There’s a minimal and controlled level of COVID-19 in Harris County
  • New chains of transmission are limited and quickly broken or a vaccine and/or treatment has been developed and widely deployed.
  • What to do: At this level, residents may resume normal contact with others unless sick.

Guidelines through all the levels

  • Continue to socially distance from others
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Use face coverings until there is a vaccine or a treatment for the virus.
  • If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, quarantine for 14 days

You can read more about Hidalgo and Turner’s threat level system on the Ready Harris website.

Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System (KPRC)