As Harris Country faces a worrying increase of COVID-19 cases, Judge Lina Hidalgo has officially set the county at the highest threat level.
The fast-paced deterioration has been mainly due to the aggressiveness of the delta variant along with the low vaccination rates, causing an increase of roughly 16% in new cases across the county.
According to the Houston Chronicle, hospitalizations in the Houston area have increased for 20 straight days and show no signs of slowing; meaning they are on pace to set a pandemic record in about a week.
With covid-packed hospitals and a lack of beds in greater Houston, patients are being transferred to any available location, such as Austin, Shreveport, La., and even North Dakota.
Even though Judge Hidalgo highlights they have implemented every possible measure to fight the pandemic, it has been especially difficult to take a stricter approach in saving lives as Governor Abbott recently prohibited local authorities to establish mask and vaccine mandates.
Abbott’s order to ban mask mandates comes after 197 city employees were reported as active COVID-19 cases.
“The numbers will dictate my response, and then we’ll deal with whatever happens after that. But I’m not going to be constrained by some order,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “Wherever this virus goes, and whatever we need to do to check it and to save lives, is what I’m prepared to do.”
As Harris leads the ranking of COVID-19 cases across Texas, data from the Worldometer show that from Texas’ total, Harris accounts for 12.5% of COVID-related deaths and 13.4% of total cases.“We find ourselves retracing our steps toward the edge of a cliff,” said judge Hidalgo. “It’s very conceivable that we can once again be heading toward a public health catastrophe.”