HOUSTON - Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reacted Thursday to Texas Governor Greg Abbott's state reopening announcement as COVID-19 cases continue to be reported.
Abbott said during his announcement that of the 22 hospital regions in Texas, 19 of the regions, including the Houston area, can increase capacity to 75% at all retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, manufacturers, museums, libraries, and gyms beginning on September 21.
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During an afternoon news conference, Turner was glad to see the numbers were coming down, but said Abbott's reopening announcement may have been a little aggressive.
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"As far as I'm concerned, I announced a week and half ago that we were starting to open things up, but I would prefer a more cautious than aggressive approach and I think taking things to 75 percent, in terms of being open, is more aggressive than I would prefer."
Turner added as the numbers are coming down in the Houston area and things are very slowly returning to some sense of normalcy, no one should be claiming victory over COVID-19 virus.
"The mission has not been accomplished and you can't claim victory over this virus. We are still fighting every day to convince Houstonians to keep their masks on and to put it on and engage in social distancing, to wash their hands, to get tested, because this virus needs to be taken very seriously."
Hidalgo said in a statement,
"Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of our residents, trends are moving in the right direction, but we cannot let our guard down and we are not out of the woods. There isn’t a single person in Harris County who wants our businesses, schools or other facets of daily life to remain closed longer than they need to, but this virus hasn’t gone away and my commitment to the residents is to ensure the County’s position reflects responsible steps that must be taken for a sustainable new normal. We continue keeping close track of the numbers in Harris County and are consulting with public health experts on the county’s guidance for the community. In the meantime, we are encouraged that Governor Abbott is adhering to a numbers-based threshold to guide his decision-making (a 15% COVID positive hospitalization threshold) and that he has agreed to provide certain jurisdictions carve outs.”