HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner said the coronavirus pandemic in Houston and in Texas is out of control and that Houstonians actions in the next few weeks were critical to slowing the spread of the deadly virus.
Turner was joined by Dr. David Persse, Fire Chief Sam Peña and police Chief Art Acevedo at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Turner started the news conference by reminding residents about the importance of filling out their 2020 Census form.
The Houston Health Department reported 412 new coronavirus cases, bringing the city’s total to 26,012. The department also reported five additional COVID-19 related deaths, according to Turner
Turner said one patient was a Hispanic male in his 30s. He said all five patients had underlying health issues.
“The numbers are moving in the wrong directions for us,” Turner said.
He emphasized how it is vital that the city bring the cases down to 300 reports for at least seven days because it will make it more practical to engage with the city’s contact tracing.
“COVID-19 in Houston and the state is out of control. What we do today and next few weeks critical to getting back to a manageable state,” he said.
Turner said with the need for ICU beds, the city is currently in phase 2. He continued to encourage residents to stay home, work remotely and wear a mask when out in public or inside a building.
COVID-19 deaths under-reported
Persse also stated that the number of COVID-19 related deaths are possibly being under-reported due to how physicians sign the death certificate and label cause of death.
“We may never know how many deaths,” he said.
Persse said a patient who dies at the hospital may or may not get tested for COVID-19 and will possibly be unaccounted for.
“Don’t think because the number of deaths is small, any death is tragic,” he said.
New testing site
The new testing location will open on the east side of downtown Houston in District 8, Turner said. Officials said Second Ward has a 76% Hispanic population.
Update on Houston Fire Department
Peña said there are 244 firefighters currently in quarantine. He said 79 firefighters have tested positive for the virus.
Peña also said the department has received 71 complaint calls on businesses within a 24-hour period.
He also encouraged residents to not shy away from calling 911 for help or assistance for emergency and to not have fear going to the hospital.
Update on Houston Police Department
Acevedo said 219 members of the department are currently in quarantine and that 147 members have tested positive, recovered and has since returned to work.
Acevedo asks for prayers after one sergeant is on a respirator and two others are hospitalized with COVID-19 complications.
Watch the full news conference below:
WATCH LIVE: Mayor Turner gives update on coronavirus in Houston and city responsePosted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Thursday, July 9, 2020