HOUSTON - Less than a month since the coronavirus COIVD-19 was reported in the greater Houston area, Harris County and surrounding counties have been under respective stay-at-home orders.
THE LATEST: COVID-19 cases in the greater Houston area
Many people have been at home for weeks, leaving only for essential activities like buying groceries or getting prescription refills.
Friday, Judge Hidalgo published a letter to county residents describing the ways our lives "have been uprooted as our community has taken crucial and extensive measures to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 epidemic."
She acknowledges those working from home, who are "juggling full-time jobs and caring for and home-schooling their children," and those who no longer have a job and are "struggling to make ends meet."
She also praises the essential workers from medical professionals to grocery store employees, who are "on the job risking their health and working harder than ever, preparing for what is yet to come."
Judge Hidalgo explained why the sacrifices we are all making are so important for our community, and how the county's decisions are based on "science and data" and the advice from "our hospital leaders."
She closed the letter with an uplifting tone, writing, "take care of yourself -- reach out for help if you or someone you know needs it. We are in this together and we will beat this together. Stay strong."
You can read the full letter below:
These past few weeks, our lives have been uprooted as our community has taken crucial and extensive measures to protect ourselves from the COVID-19 epidemic. We have declared a public health emergency in Harris County. Large gatherings have been canceled, schools have closed their doors, and we have ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms. Those who are able to do so are working from home, many juggling full-time jobs and caring for and home-schooling their children. Too many are without a job and struggling to make ends meet. Countless others, from medical professionals to grocery store employees, are on the job risking their health and working harder than ever, preparing for what is yet to come. While I know this is an incredibly difficult time, we are in a crucial moment in which our sacrifices will save the lives of our relatives, neighbors, and friends. Everyone must play their part to help us stop the spread of Coronavirus. Only by stopping the spread of the virus will we keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed and ensure that we get over this crisis and back to normality as soon as possible. The number of COVID-19 cases within Harris County continues to quickly grow, and we must continue to do everything possible to temper these numbers. On Tuesday, I extended the mandatory Stay Home-Work Safe order for Harris County. The order closes non-essential businesses and stops non-essential activities through April 30. This decision, and any other decisions we make, are based on science and data. Our North Star is the advice we are getting from our hospital leaders, who tell us rates are going up too quickly, but we are still in time to fare better than what we are seeing in other communities if we all do our part. Please, follow the order and stay home as much as you possibly can. Keep practicing social distancing and following community guidelines. Support our local restaurants by ordering take-out or delivery. If you can, donate to the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund to help our most vulnerable residents in this critical time of need. Stay informed by visiting the Ready Harris website for COVID-19 information, updates, and resources. Take some time to fill out your census. And take care of yourself -- reach out for help if you or someone you know needs it. We are in this together and we will beat this together. Stay strong.