Trash pickup, services may be impacted as hundreds of Houston workers contract COVID-19, Turner said

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (Facebook/Office of the Mayor Sylvester Turner, Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Monday that trash pickup, street repairs and other city services may be impacted as more than 200 city employees have contracted COVID-19.

In the Monday press conference, Turner announced that 224 city or municipal employees had tested positive for coronavirus and two employees of Houston Public Works died from the virus Friday.

“More than 5% of the staff at @HouPublicWorkds are currently out due to the virus or exposure to the virus,” Turner’s office tweeted as he spoke in the news conference. “(Houston Public Works) cannot work from home to run the water treatment plants or fix the roads.”

Here are the highlights of his press conference:

  • 884 new cases of COVID-19 in Houston Monday bringing city total to 36,985.
  • Tragically reporting 7 more people who have died. The total count of Houstonians who have died of coronavirus is now at 329.
  • Of those who have died, 6 out of 7 people were from the Hispanic community including a man in his 40s and a man in his 50s
  • Hundreds of Houston firefighters and police officers remain in quarantine, Turner said.
  • 224 municipal workers have tested positive for the virus and two Houston Public Works employees died of COVID-19 Friday. They were considered essential employees and were required to go to work each day as they could not do the same duties from home, Turner said.
  • Turner asked people to be patient if there was a slow down in response in trash collection, water main issues, etc.
  • HFD Chief Sam Pena said Captain Leroy Lucio remains in the ICU, seeking treatment for coronavirus.
  • 189 firefighters have contracted the virus, with 38 actively positive, Pena said. 162 firefighters are under quarantine.
  • HFD has responded to 48 complaints that businesses were violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders.
  • There are no HFD stations that are closed, despite rumors on social media, Pena said.
  • Turner said Vincent Mandola will be deeply missed. He gave his condolences to his family.
  • Dr. David Persse showed that the positivity rate had slightly reduced in Houston but he said he was hesitant to say this was a flattening of the curve.
  • On a heatmap of Harris County ZIP Codes that were worst affected, the deep blue areas showed that there was an over 30% positivity rate, Persse said.
  • Turner asked Houstonians to be intentional and focused on wearing masks to continue a positive change in the coronavirus positivity rates.
  • The goal is to reduce the number of people going to the hospitals, needing intensive care and ventilators, so as to ensure that local hospitals are no overwhelmed, Turner said.
  • Most city-permitted events will be canceled in August as well, Turner said. The Mayor’s back-to-school event will be a drive-by event at NRG on August 7 and 8, in collaboration with the Houston Food Bank.
  • Some labs are taking almost 2 weeks or more to report positive tests, Turner said.
  • Dr. Persse: Due to the lag in test results, if you think you’ve been exposed and went to get tested, just assume you have been exposed and quarantine yourself. If you went to get tested because you have symptoms, isolate yourself and contact your physician.
  • Dr. Persse: I feel confident that within Harris County, we are not missing people who have died due to COVID-19. The medical examiner is being very aggressive in determining if a death was COVID-related.
  • In order for Houston Astros fans to be in stadium seats this season, Turner says they have to put on masks right now and engage in social distancing. All the things we know work against this virus, we need to do right now.
  • There is no substitute for individual responsibility, Turner said.
  • The Army task force is working at UMMC. The hospital had an empty wing that is being used by the military personnel, Persse said.
  • The economic impact of this virus will continue to affect Houston for another two to three years, Turner said.

Watch Mayor Turner’s full press conference below:

WATCH LIVE: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gives an update on the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic MORE: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/07/20/houston-mayor-sylvester-turner-to-discuss-the-citys-response-to-covid-19/

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Monday, July 20, 2020