‘Lead or get out of the way’: Hidalgo calls on state leaders to act as coronavirus cases increase in Harris County

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo warned against holiday gatherings Tuesday and urged state leaders to act to address the recent increase in coronavirus cases and positivity rates in Harris County.

Hidalgo’s remarks come a little more than a week before people typically travel and gather to mark Thanksgiving. Officials in Houston and across the country have expressed concerns that these activities may lead to a faster upward trend of COVID-19 cases.

The judge said the county’s positivity rate is at 8.2%, noting that the number has been creeping up since late summer. A manageable positivity rate is 5%, medical experts have said.

“There’s been a deeply troubling loss in the momentum we had begun to build as a community,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo asked everyone in the county to cancel gatherings unless the gathering is with people in your immediate household and get tested regardless of experiencing symptoms or probability of exposure. She also reminded people to wear masks, wash their hands and keep their distance from others.

“I understand this is a lot to ask,” Hidalgo said while describing the situation as a war against the virus. “We can’t expect it to be easy right now.”

The judge blamed arbitrary reopenings by the state for sending the numbers in the wrong direction.

“That’s why we need the state to step in and lead or get out of the way and let us lead,” Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo said state leaders have been picking-and-choosing metrics instead of using a consistent system to determine when it is safe to reopen.

The judge said she is convinced that unless people take the actions she’s requesting there will not be a way to avoid stronger actions in the future.

Hidalgo said she has relayed all of the data and her concerns to the governor’s office.

KPRC 2 has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo gives an update on the coronavirus pandemic in the county.


An earlier version of this story reported an incorrect positivity rate.