Coronavirus

NRG Center Looked at For Possible Coronavirus Bed Site, More Local Deaths

The best defense? Distancing, distancing, distancing says Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
The best defense? Distancing, distancing, distancing says Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Screen shot
On Monday, the Houston Health Department reported one new death and 23 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city's total to 309. To date there have been three reported deaths in the city due to the coronavirus.

"The deceased resident was a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions. She was a previously-reported COVID-19 case and died on March 29 in an area hospital. The city's two previously-reported COVID-19 deaths are also elderly women with underlying health conditions," the city's health department wrote in a statement.

Meanwhile over at the county, there have been two deaths reported, the second on Monday involving a woman in her 50s, and the number of positive cases clocked in at 254 (not including the city).

As for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's stay-at-home order originally set to expire on April 3, the judge said at an early evening press conference televised on Channel 13 and abc13.com, the question is not "whether" her order will be extended but for how long. President Trump on Sunday announced he was extending his social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Hidalgo says that whatever she decides about her order, any change will be gradual and evaluated on a week by week basis.

"What we can do is provide some sort of certainty within the uncertain situation that is that virus. That's what I want to work for. Right now we're seeing too sharp an increase still to even consider stopping it.

"I also want folks to know where we feel the order can be relaxed, it's not something that we'll be able to just lift. and so all of a sudden you go to a complete back to normal. Because the virus is going to pop up again when we relax the order. When we get to that point we’ll relax parts of it and then we may have to put it back on, just watching how our trends do.

"It is something none of us have ever lived through before."

In response to a question, Hidalgo said the county is considering using the NRG Center for a possible site for coronavirus patients if all the hospital beds are full. NRG Arena might also be used, but not the stadium.

Hidalgo said she and her staff hope that by Tuesday they will have worked out a way to release some of the inmates in the county jail. Texas Gov, Greg Abbott issued an order Sunday saying that no violent offenders should be released for jails to fight community spread of the coronavirus.

Hidalgo said she was in agreement with that and added that no one with a burglary of a residence charge or a third DWI charge against them would be considered for release as well as those accused of more violent crimes.

Both Hidalgo and Dr. Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, stressed that the coronavirus test is not the key to fighting the coronavirus. "The most powerful tool is physical distancing, " she said.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George held a 2 p.m. press conference to discuss the collaborations between it and AccessHealth at its first county-supported COVID-19 testing site.

During that press conference Graig, chief of EMS for Fort Bens County, cautioned people that if they transport a suspected coronavirus patient to the hospital, family members will not be able to ride along in the ambulance. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing