Insisting she was not in conflict with the governor, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo extended her stay-at-home order through June 10, saying it was needed as a reminder that the coronavirus was still with us.
Although Gov. Greg Abbott allowed his statewide stay at home order to expire at the end of April, Hidalgo said her order did not contradict that. Although, thanks to the governor, violators of her COVID-19 orders face no legal or financial repercussions, Hidalgo said "We do have the moral authority for the entire community."
Nothing that there have been more than 10,000 combined cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the county and city of Houston with more than 210 deaths, Hidalgo repeated her mantra of "The virus is still out there."
At her midday press conference, Hidalgo also stressed that employers will have to follow CDC guidelines about personal protection equipment for their workers and cautioned that the entire community will be watching to make sure that happens and continues to happen. A full list of steps retail businesses should take is available on the Harris County Public Health website. The county's public health department also has construction reopening advice.
Saying she has heard from several workers who said they don't feel safe at their jobs, Hidalgo said she's asking that work times be staggered and breaks provided for every four hours so that workers can wash their hands. For workers who interact with the public, their breaks should be oftener, every hour, she said. Workers should be screened for symptoms before entering a worksite and anyone with a temperature above 100 should be sent home.
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"No worker should be penalized or shamed," for following public health guidelines, she said. Workers should wear face coverings. Businesses should disinfect all areas before reopening.
When asked if everyone is safe now as Texas lifts restrictions and gets back to business, Hidalgo said her standard reply is: "We're no safer than we were in March. She said she will be meeting with members of Commissioners Court to decide what, if any restrictions will need to be placed on the country's public parks over the Memorial Day weekend. She noted, however, that this past weekend when she visited two county parks she was pleased to see people maintaining social distancing.
Her order, which she said she will sign later today and publish on readyharris.org is not intended to raise alarm, she said, but to signal that the level of awareness should remain the same.
Meanwhile, Abbott Thursday terminated his order regarding air travel restrictions that had mandated temporary quarantines for travelers arriving from California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; or Miami, Florida.