The worsening pandemic hit closer to home than ever for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo this weekend.
Just two days after issuing a county-wide coronavirus red alert, Hidalgo announced Sunday that she was in self-quarantine after learning that one of her staffers tested positive for COVID-19.
According to an official statement released Sunday night, Hidalgo and other county employees were potentially exposed to the employee in question one week ago on Monday, June 22. The employee’s positive test results came in this weekend, and they are reportedly self-isolating.
Hidalgo’s office said that the judge and all other county employees who may have come in contact with the employee who tested positive will be tested themselves and will voluntarily self-isolate until Monday, July 6 in accordance with CDC guidelines, which recommend that people avoid contact with others for 14 days after having come in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
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“The reality of it is, there are thousands of residents across Harris County that are increasingly finding themselves in the same position I am in today. There are rising numbers of residents testing positive for this virus, and more and more requiring hospitalization,” Hidalgo said.
The county judge's possible exposure to COVID-19 came following rapidly increasing positive test rates in Harris County and the City of Houston in recent weeks. In response to the stark uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back several pieces of his statewide reopening plan on Friday by once again closing bars and clubs and reducing restaurant occupancy limits down from 75 percent to 50 percent.
County business will continue to operate as usual despite Hidalgo’s isolation and that of her staffers. According to the statement from her office, most of Hidalgo’s team have already been working from home in recent weeks, and the limited number of staff who have been in the office have been wearing masks and maintaining social distance from one another.
“We are at Threat Level 1 - Red - and I continue to call on everyone to stay home except for essential activities," Hidalgo said. "That is the only way we avoid a crisis in our hospital system and put our community in a position to reopen in a smarter and more sustainable way. We will beat this threat together as a community and I will continue to ensure we are pursuing every option we have to bring this back under control.”