Achieving COVID-19 Containment Will Be "A Tall Order" Given the May 1 Re-Opening, Hidalgo Says

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Tuesday morning.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Tuesday morning.
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A day after having her knees cut out from under her by the Texas governor as regards the possible fines accompanying violations of her 30-day mandatory mask order, Lina Hidalgo outlined a speeded-up three-point plan for containing the spread of COVID-19 in Harris County.

Saying that practicing social distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing is even more important now in the wake of Gov. Abbott's order that in-store, in-theater and in-restaurant outings will be allowed starting Friday, Hidalgo expressed continued concerns about a possible resurgence and spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

“Achieving containment that is sustainable will be a tall order given the May 1st timeline, and we cannot afford to erase the gains our community has sacrificed so much to achieve. Harris County will do everything possible to preserve what we have accomplished thus far, and this framework will help us get there,” the judge said at her Tuesday morning press conference.

Increased testing, contact tracing and the capacity of health care professionals and doctors to handle the coming round of coronavirus cases are all key to her plan.

The county plans to recruit 300 contact tracers whose job will be to run down every possible person who has come into contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19. These contact tracers will be trained by epidemiologists and other staff working for Harris County in this effort, she said.

Hidalgo said all parts of her plan were already underway but have been accelerated by the governor's decision not to extend his stay-at-home order when it expires this Thursday.

"Because of the governor's announcement, we're having to speed up the timeline on our plan. And the good thing is we had it ready. And so what we've done, as soon as we heard we said let's get moving with this. It's perhaps, it's truly earlier than I would have done it. But we have it."

She said the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 are flat, but have not yet generated the downward curve that she and her medical experts had wanted to see before relaxing the social distancing guidelines. 

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