Texas coronavirus: Harris Co. judge Lina Hidalgo moves threat level COVID-19 to red

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is increasing the COVID-19 threat level in the area to red, which means it is serious, and she must stay home.

Hidalgo made the announcement two weeks after introducing the four-tier color-coded system designed to help provide the public with guidance on how to protect yourself.

“The stark reality is that our current infection rate is on its way to overwhelming our hospitals in the very near future,” said Judge Hidalgo. “We hope this will serve as a wake-up call for everyone that the time to act is now.”

Under the level one threat, you are urged to:

  • Stay home, unless you need to go to the supermarket to buy food and medicine.
  • Avoid and cancel all meetings of any size.
  • All vulnerable people (over 65 or with pre-existing health conditions) stay at home
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days if you are in close and prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Wear face covers to protect others.
  • Avoid non-essential business and personal travel.
  • Avoid public transportation whenever possible.
  • Cancel visits to nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and hospitals
  • Avoid and cancel all indoor and outdoor gatherings, including concerts, rodeos, major sporting events, etc. Nearby youth schools and extracurricular activities, as directed by educational authorities.

The level as of June 11 was orange, meaning the threat is significant, and should minimize all contacts.

These are the four levels of the COVID-19 threat system for Harris County:
Level 1 – Serious (red) Stay home
Level 2 – Significant (orange) Minimize all contacts
Level 3 – Moderate (yellow) Stay vigilant
Level 4 – Minimum (green) Resume normal contacts

The county has a constant dial indicator on ReadyHarris.org.

Although he did not elaborate, Hidalgo said he would issue a warning similar to the initial “Stay Home, Work Safe” order issued in the county in March, when COVID-19-related closings began.

Hidalgo does not have the authority to issue another order, but said the notice would reflect one.

She continued to appeal to the public to follow the guidelines as well and help flatten the curve.

“Since when did we decide, as a society, that instead of saving a life and preventing the spread of the virus, we would treat human lives, the lives of our neighbors as collateral damage to face?” Hidalgo said.

FULL STORY: Bars are due to close at noon today, according to Governor Greg Abbott’s new order

The announcement comes the same day that Governor Greg Abbott issued a new order that the state would be stepping back.

All bars and similar establishments that receive 51% or more of their gross alcohol income are ordered closed. While customers will not be allowed to visit, those companies may provide delivery and take-out services, including beverage sales.

Starting Monday, June 29, restaurants must reduce their capacity from 75% to 50%, although they may remain open for dinner service.

Abbott also closed rafting trips and banned outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people unless approved by local officials.

“Right now, it is clear that the increase in cases is largely due to certain types of activities, including Texans who congregate in bars,” he said in a press release. “Actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to quickly contain this virus and protect public health.”

Abbott also said that outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited unless explicitly approved by local officials.

Hidalgo said meetings of that size are prohibited in unincorporated Harris County, with immediate effect.

RELATED: Where Are We In The COVID-19 Fight? This is what the experts say

If necessary, the judge said Harris County is ready to deploy a medical shelter at NRG to support the hospital system if it is overwhelmed by new cases beyond existing surge capacity. Medical shelter costs are expected to be 100% reimbursed by federal funds, either from FEMA or CARES funds already allocated to the county.

MORE: Coronavirus Cases, Deaths, and County-by-County Recoveries Around Houston

Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved.