Harris County Judge does not intend to raise county's COVID-19 threat level

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, cities like Austin and Los Angeles are implementing COVID-19 restrictions again.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo says she's not considering any changes at the moment.

In mid-May, she lowered the county's COVID-19 threat level from red to orange or from severe uncontrolled spread to significant uncontrolled spread. By the end of the month, the threat level was lowered again to yellow; it signaled COVID-19 spread is under control.  

"We are looking at the numbers, we're at a place where right now it still makes sense to be at yellow but we're setting thresholds and I'm going to be guided by the data," Hidalgo said.

The county's positivity rate is 5.5%. It was 3% about a month ago.

"It's not a moment to say all the progress is lost, by any means, no. But we are in a precarious situation," she concluded.


Dr. David Persse with Houston Health Department notes the city's positivity rate is low, but it increased from 3.3% two weeks ago to 4.9%. 

"That's about a 48% increase from one week to the next," Dr. Persse told FOX 26.

The city is also tracking waste water for the virus where Dr. David Persse says they're seeing an increase in the amount of virus and detecting the delta variant.

"We've been seeing that [increase] actually now for several weeks," he explained. "And, this is the usual trend. We'll start to see an increase in the waste water about two weeks before we start seeing an increase in the positivity rate, and that's about two weeks before we start seeing hospitalizations increase."

Governor Abbott banned local governments from implementing restrictions. Persse says even if they were allowed, it would be nearly impossible since he feels they would only be needed for those who are unvaccinated.

"I don't think that we can go there like we did before only, because it would just be operationally impossible, but restrictions absolutely work," he said.


Hidalgo hopes the increase in cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated prompts them to get the vaccine.

"If you don't have it, you are definitely in the minority and you are extending the suffering of this virus and this crisis, including the economic pain," she said.