Houston’s top doctor warns virus peak is only halftime, not game over

HOUSTON – In April, Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse warned when the virus hits its peak, that’s only “half-time, not game over.”

Persse said not enough people got that message and if we don’t get the message now, then we will continue seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases until a vaccine is created.

“I’m sorry, this is the reality. It’s not political ideology, it’s simple biology,” Persse said.

Persse believes Texans will again rise to the occasion and flatten the curve, but the public will then fall into a familiar trap of not wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.

“People start thinking, ‘Oh, it’s getting better,’ and then go back to the exact same behaviors that give the virus it’s advantage again,” Persse said.

Persse said this thinking is why we’re seeing a wave of cases far greater than what many thought was our peak of the virus in April. Houston’s is definitely a hot-spot. The city’s positivity rate is nearly 25%, which is close to double the statewide average and the average for our nine-county region.

Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston
Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston (KPRC)
Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston
Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston (KPRC)
Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston
Positivity rate for COVID-19 in Houston (KPRC)

Persse said part of this high percentage comes population density.

“I really think it has to do with that we are more densely populated urban center and so, as you, go out into the more rural communities the physical distancing between people just becomes a matter of normal course and circumstance,” Persse said.

Persse added more people who are already sick are seeking testing, which can drive up a positivity rate.

“There is some argument that those are people who have reason, they think they got exposed and that may be elevating the percentage a little bit,” Persse said.

He said regardless of what’s driving the percentage, the numbers clearly show the virus is still circulating in the community. He said this is why it’s even more critical for people to wear masks and avoid crowds. He adds we need to follow these guidelines even after the number of positive cases drop.

“If we want to keep businesses open, we got to stick to it and keep businesses open. If we want schools to be open we got to stick to it so the schools can stay open, otherwise, we’re just going to keep going back-and-forth like we are now,” Persse said.

He said some models suggest it could be a month before seeing the virus numbers peak, it all depends on how Texans handle this latest surge in cases.