Judge Hidalgo announces $30 million COVID-19 initiative to bring nurses to Houston areas, increase in vaccinations

Judge Hidalgo held a press conference on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, to discuss the ongoing efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County.
Judge Hidalgo held a press conference on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, to discuss the ongoing efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County. (KPRC 2)

HOUSTON – Judge Hidalgo held a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss the ongoing efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County.

Hidalgo introduced a $30 million plan to bring more nurses outside of the region into hospitals across the Houston area in response to the overwhelming amount of people in emergency rooms and ICU due to the pandemic. Hidalgo said the SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council will help distribute the nurses to the hospitals, as needed.

READ MORE: Memorial Hermann closes 3 Houston area emergency rooms due to surge of COVID-19 cases

$100 vaccine initiative update

In addition, Hidalgo said vaccination numbers have skyrocketed since the $100 initiative was announced last Tuesday. Before the $100 payments, about 440 vaccinations per day were being administered at Harris County Public Health sites, Hidalgo said. Since the initiative was announced, Hidalgo said vaccination numbers have shot up to nearly 2,700 per day, excluding weekends.

“We were hoping we’d have a positive response from the $100 incentive, but we weren’t sure what we were gonna see,” Hidalgo said. “And we had an inkling that something was going right when I started my announcement at noon and by the time I was done 30 minutes later, there was a line of cars waiting to receive the vaccine.”

“You have to be creative, and we’re seeing the results and we’re doubling down on it,” Hidalgo continued.

RELATED: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces new $100 COVID-19 vaccine incentive initiative

New mass vaccination sites

Hidalgo said because of the surge in demand and the Texans needing the NRG lot back, HCPHD will be opening two new massive vaccination sites. Sheldon ISD’s Panther Stadium, which opens Tuesday, can reportedly accommodate 1,500 people a day. On Thursday, the NRG site will be moved to Dick Graves Park on Reed Road. Hidalgo said this site can serve up to nearly 3,000 people a day.

How to apply for Harris County Small Business Relief Fund

Hidalgo also provided an update on how local business owners can apply for the Harris County Small Business Relief Fund. The $30 million program was announced earlier in August.

READ MORE: ‘We owe it to them’: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announces proposal for new $30 million small business fund

During a press conference on Aug. 10, Hidalgo said the small business recovery fund would use money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and is to be administered by LiftFund, a nonprofit community development financial institution.

“Running a small business is a huge challenge, even during the good times,” Hidalgo said on Aug. 10. “The personal sacrifices that small business owners make day in and day out for their community are huge and we owe it to them to support them as we make it through the COVID-19 crisis and the associated economic challenges.”

Business owners can apply at HarrisCountyBusinessRelief.org.


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