Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner urged residents Wednesday to cancel holiday gatherings as hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases continue to increase in the Houston area.
Hidalgo said the county has faced a number of challenges over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic. She said ICU numbers have not stopped creeping up and the Texas Medical Center is routinely crossing its base compacity.
“The current situation where our Medical Center, the largest in the world, is routinely crossing its base capacity, means that procedures are postponed, that health care workers are at risk of burnout, that we can’t sustain a surge in infections, beyond where we are right now, and that we’re living at the very, very edge,” Hidalgo said.
The judge urged residents to stay home and put plans on hold as Christmas and the end of the year approaches.
“Mayor Turner and I wanted to join forces today to convey the seriousness of how important it is for everybody to cancel gatherings. This year, show your love for others, by not visiting wait until it’s safe until we’ve completely turned the corner and that will be when enough people are vaccinated,” she said.https://9d435bbf76bb5f87e8fda32cf5a29407.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Hidalgo said she and Turner have both discussed the possibility of implementing a curfew but said it would be the last resort.
“The mayor and I have discussed potentially imposing a curfew,” she said. “To be clear, we’re choosing not to do that right now because it’s a last-resort tool to use when disaster seems unavoidable. Right now, we can turn things around. That being said, we are not ruling out a curfew in the future.”
Turner emphasized the importance of Hidalgo’s message, saying the city’s positivity rate has climbed to 12.3%.
“Let me just say, I agree with Judge Hidalgo 100%,” Turner said. “We both have been talking about where we are right now in Houston and Harris County. We both have been looking at these numbers intensely over the last six weeks. The positivity rate is increasing.”
As of Wednesday, the Houston Health Department reports 634 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths.
Turner also asked for people to get tested but said testing sites will be closed on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day but will reopen on Saturday.