The city of Houston reached a grim milestone of the weekend.
Officials said the death toll for COVID-19 has crossed 2,000 people, only a few days after the one-year anniversary of the first Houston-area COVID-19 case.
While Gov. Abbott announced plans to fully reopen the state and rescind the mask order on Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said healthcare workers are still fighting against the virus.
“These healthcare providers medical professionals have been working around the clock,” Turner said during a press conference to urge business owners to enforce mask orders. “But I’m just concerned.. that with the governor opening up the entire state and saying pretty much 100% across the board.”
Turner said in the week since Abbott’s visit to Houston at least 68 people have died from COVID-19. In addition, he reported nearly 500 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths on Sunday.
Turner also noted the presence of at least five COVID-19 variants spreading in the city.
“They are moving at a rapid rate, which means we’re doing everything we can to get the shots in people’s arms as quickly as possible,” he said.
Turner said Texas was only a few months away from making significant process in the COVID-19 response, due to the distribution of the vaccine.
“The sad part is two to three months from now, the landscape could have looked so different than what it is today,” Turner said.
However, Turner said he believes Abbott’s actions will spark a rise in new COVID-19 cases and deaths, puts business owners and customers in precarious positions and encourages out-of-state promoters to consider Texas cities for major events.
“This is just not the right time,” he said.
Turner did thank business owners and customers that have continued to wear masks, social distance and practice other COVID-19 safety precautions.