Cancel big Thanksgiving plans and gatherings, says Harris County Judge Hidalgo

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is encouraging the public to cancel big Thanksgiving plans and large gatherings for the holidays after citing alarming COVID-19 trends.

She said the average number of COVID 19 cases in Harris County has jumped up 250% since September. She also cited the positivity rate increasing by a third to 8.2 %. Hospitalizations, she said, have been the highest since Labor Day.

COVID-19 vaccines could be available in Houston before year’s end

Houston health officials say a vaccine could be available to the public in the Houston area as early as mid-December.

Her request to the community- get tested and cancel big gatherings for the holidays.

“We are in a war against this virus. Things should not be normal when it is a time of crisis and if things feel normal we know we are doing something wrong,” said Hidalgo.

Harris County Health Authority Dr. Umair Shah agrees with Hidalgo’s directive.

“There are things that are happening during the holidays of being together with our family or with our friends. People that we think are part of our social bubble, but they are really not because it's our family. Our immediate family in our household that we need to be concerned about and be around especially in those intimate settings. We have to be very careful of inviting those other people into our home in indoor settings because when we invite people into our homes in indoor settings outside of our social bubble, guess what, we are also inviting the virus in with us,” said Dr. Shah.

Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah to leave Harris County Public Health

Executive Director Dr. Umair Shah will leave Harris County Public Health to serve as the next Secretary of Health for the state of Washington effective December 18, officials said.

Harris County residents can expect, if they have not received already, a text alert about the alarming trend.

“We have a narrow window to turn things around and one of the best ways to reach them is through these text alerts. I am not going to avoid the use of a tool that we have at a moment where action or inaction could make the difference in our community,” said Hidalgo.

Doctor offers ways to keep your family healthy this Thanksgiving

If you're still trying to decide whether to go visit family members for Thanksgiving, Dr. Michael Chang with UT Physicians and UT Health shares his advice.