HOUSTON - Although Governor Greg Abbott lifted COVD-19 restrictions statewide more than three weeks ago, officials in Harris County continue urging people to stay home.
"I’ve had to work every day," said one person Thursday. "I didn’t know a thing about that."
According to ReadyHarris.org, the county remains at "Red/Level 1" for COVID-19. Level 1 is the highest COVID-19 classification possible and warns of uncontrolled Coronavirus spread.
"People are still dying of this virus," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. "People are still hospitalized with this virus. There is an end in sight, but it’s not the time to give up."
The county’s website says the current COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 8.6%, while 16.9% of hospitalized ICU patients have Coronavirus. In comparison, roughly 50 percent of hospitalized ICU patients in Harris County had COVID-19 last July.
"We’re at a plateau right now," said Dr. David Callender, President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System. "The county is really trying to follow the CDC guidance. I think that is wise. As we think as individuals, we consider our own vaccination status. We [can also] consider the sort of people we might be spending time with [to minimize risks]."
Judge Hidalgo tells us that numerous factors are being used to determine the county’s COVID-19 threat level at ReadyHarris.org.
"Until those numbers, all of them, come down, we should not change our precautions," said Hidalgo. "We’re getting there, but only 12 percent of the county has been vaccinated."
According to Harris County’s COVID-19 page, Level 1 urges residents to "avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food or medicine."
"The threat level system is based on the metric we laid out months ago," said Hidalgo. "I don’t like being the bearer of bad news, but I have to follow the parameters we laid out."
Some people have expressed confusion on social media regarding the stay home status across Harris County when Judge Hidalgo posted a photo on Instagram of her socially distant on a beach in Galveston.
"Stay home doesn’t mean you should be under house arrest," said Hidalgo. "It means you should be very careful. We need to protect our health and mental health by enjoying safe activities."
The Houston Astros plan to have fans in seats next week for their season home opener. In addition, UFC hopes to sellout a fight in Houston next month.
"Large gatherings should not be taking place right now," said Hidalgo.
Several factors are used to configure the level for Harris County’s COVID-19 alert system. For now, Judge Hidalgo says Harris County remains in "Level-1".