In a press conference of general good news — new donations from NRG to frontline responders and others affected by the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus — the city's health autority Dr. David Persse sounded a note of caution amid the encouragement and congratulations.
"I want to remind everyone that when we hit the peak whenever that should be, that is not game over. That is half time," Persse said. "And more work is going to need to come in as we try to — and this is not my lane, this is the mayor's lane — how we restart society. It'll be my job to help advise the mayor on how we do that while at the same time protecting folks because the virus is still in the community. And the virus doesn't care. And if we give the virus the opportunity it will take it. "
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reported three more COVID-19 deaths for 26 reported deaths total and 52 new positive cases at his Wednesday afternoon press conference. Still, he said, compared to some other cities such as New York, Seattle and New Orleans, it is amazing that the Houston area has remained relatively low by comparison.
The latest Houston deaths, all said to be people with underlying medical conditions, included an African American man in his 80s who died on April 8, an African American man in his 60s who died on April 12, and a white, non-Hispanic man in his 50s who died on April 5.
Thanks to the social distancing measures that most people in the area have been abiding by, Turner said hospitals are still working within themselves to provide services and still have ventilators and ICU beds.
Meanwhile, following Houston's lead, Fort Bend County has opened its public COVID-19 testing site to anyone wanting a test, whether symptomatic or not. As in Houston, people desiring a test still have to first contact the county (in the case of Fort Bend: 281-238-2368) before showing up at the testing site. Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced at a commissioners court meeting that he was expanding the free testing.
In Fort Bend County there have been 15 deaths reported and 627 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date.
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Harris County reported three additional deaths over the day before in the unincorporated areas of the county, and the number of confirmed positives moved to 1,766 for the county.
Meanwhile, the Harris County Sheriff's Office reported it now has 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the department's employees. Eighty-five of those people work in the jail. As of Wednesday, 68 county jail inmates have tested postive.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had attempted to ease the crowding in the county jail by releasing non-violent offenders and some 1,000 inmates were initially released but was stopped by an order from Gov. Greg Abbott.
That dispute ended up in federal court, but late Tuesday U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal said she would not issue a temporary order against either side in the dispute.