Since January, Harris County’s COVID-19 threat alert system has been "Level 1-red", the highest level possible. Level 1 encourages the unvaccinated population to minimize contact with others. However, on Thursday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo hinted at the possibility of dropping the threat level to "Level 2-orange" as early as next week.
"Things are absolutely improving," said Hidalgo. "We do need to wait for the hospitalization threshold to be met. It does look like we’re going to get to orange in a few days. Hopefully, next week."
Within Houston, city employees are required to wear masks inside buildings. However, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turners says they’re reevaluating this rule.
"We still require our city employees, when they’re inside, to put on their masks," said Turner. "We’ll take a look at that. That may end up changing."
Over the last few weeks, the Texas Medical Center (TMC) has reported a dramatic decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. This week, TMC COVID numbers dropped to the lowest levels of the year.
"It is encouraging," said Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson, Vice President of Employee Health Medical Operations for Memorial Hermann Health System. "The metrics we’re seeing and the cases are decreasing. We still have a good number of patients in the hospital that have COVID, about 400. That’s down from over 1,100 over the last couple of weeks."
In Houston, preparations are currently underway for the Houston Rodeo. The popular event is expected to kick off for the first time since the pandemic.
"We are going to have to live, with the presence of this virus now and in the future," said Turner. "We’re just going to have to live with it."
According to Turner, he plans to enjoy the rodeo festivities himself.
"I’ll have my hat on, my boots, and belt," said Turner.