Judge Lina Hidalgo, health officials give additional information on coronavirus health crisis

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Mayor Sylvester Turner and health officials with Fort Bend County held a joint news conference to announce new community recommendations to address coronavirus (COVID-19) Thursday.

The news conference was held at 1:30 p.m. at the Houston TranStar Building located at 6922 Katy Rd.

Harris County

Hidalgo announced that the cases of the coronavirus have risen to 17 and there is now evidence of community spread. She said the county is trying to get ahead of the curve and protect the community before it spikes.

Here is what the county is recommending:

– The county is asking the community to think very hard on gatherings of people to be postponed or to be held online.

– Organizers of events that have 250 people or more to cancel.

– Seniors and people at higher risk to the coronavirus should not participate in gatherings.

– Employers maximize telecommuting and do not have close contact with one another.

– The county does not recommend schools to close because it does not really make a difference.

– Harris county is taking a leap on this by canceling all county permitted events, such as toll roads no longer accepting cash, suspending jury duty until March 20.

– If you’re sick, to please not go out in public.

“We are not recommending that schools close,” Hidalgo said. “We know children are a cause for concern, they are carriers, but if schools close, there were wouldn’t be much of a difference, (H1N1 reference) healthcare workers and call takers couldn’t work. We are sending guidance to school to stagger classes, take special measures that we will be convening all school districts tomorrow to coordinate.”

Houston area

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city of Houston will also follow the county’s recommendations as well. Turner said we live in a very mobile region and the city is doing its best to contain and mitigate the coronavirus. He said the recommendations will be implemented until the end of March.

Turner said because of the need for residents to wash their hands, the city will not disconnect water until the end of March, but said that does not mean you will not owe money for your water bill.

He also announced that the Asian Chambers of Commerce donated 20,000 masks to the city of Houston’s first responders.

Montgomery County

Montgomery County signed a disaster declaration for COVID-19 Thursday. Officials said

The county has ordered the following:

  1. Any event sponsored or permitted by Montgomery County shall cease.
  2. Events greater than 250 persons shall cease at all public facilities across Montgomery County.
  3. Any event greater than 250 persons held at private facilities are urged to cancel but should make those determinations within their organizations and with staff of those facilities.
  4. Events of 250 persons or more that would include any population at severe risk of severe illness should cease. The population at the greatest risk is anyone over the age of 65 and/or those with severe medical conditions as defined by CDC guidelines.
  5. Nursing homes and senior living centers should limit visitation of the public within their facilities.

The order does not extend to law enforcement activities, emergency responses, court operations to include jury operations, and to all school districts or private school facilities within the jurisdiction of the county. The order will take effect at midnight on March 13, 2020, and extend for a duration of 30 days and maybe extended as needed.

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