(PatriotHeadline.com)- And just like that, a major U.S. city in a state that was among the first to relax coronavirus-related restrictions may go back on lockdown after what looks to be another major outbreak.
Sylvester Turner, Houston’s mayor, and Lina Hidalgo, a judge in Harris County, announced on Thursday that the state is “getting close” to once again imposing stay-at-home orders one day after Texas had the highest one-day total of new confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.
In addition to the re-establishment or stay-at-home orders, Houston officials are also preparing to possibly re-open a hospital established specifically for COVID-19 at a local football stadium. It was never used when it was originally set up, but officials believe it may soon be needed badly.
As Hidalgo said:
“We may be approaching the precipice of a disaster. It’s out of hand right now. The good news is it’s not severe out of hand.”
Because the most severe initial coronavirus outbreaks occurred on the East Coast — in states such as New York and New Jersey — some states in the South, Midwest and West Coast were eager to open.
Texas was among the first states that eased lockdown measures to re-start their struggling economy. Now, though, the state is reeling from a new outbreak that many experts in the medical field believe is a direct result of the loosening of restrictions too early — and the habits of people who didn’t follow social distancing recommendations.
According to Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Hidalgo:
“Hidalgo believes the state is moving too fast to re-open.”
That’s why Houston officials are warning people to prepare for another lockdown. The challenge to the city and/or county doing that is that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued executive orders that re-opened the economy.
Even Lemaitre admitted that local authorities may have little authority legally to impose and enforce further lockdown rules that would go against Abbott’s orders, if either the governor, legislators or even Texas residents decided to challenge it in court.
The situation is especially concerning to Harris County, as it has seen roughly 20% of the total cases in all of Texas. The county has 15,552 of the 81,583 total cases in the state.
The good news for Harris County, though, is the death toll is only roughly one-third of what it has been in other parts of the country such as New York. Dallas County has had a death rate that’s 2.6% higher than Harris County’s in fact.
During this pandemic, Harris County established a “public health threat level assessment” that alerts residents if the coronavirus situation either gets better or gets worse. Currently, the county has it at the second-highest level of the four-tier scale.
As Hidalgo said:
“We’re moving in the wrong direction with hospital admissions, and if it continues, we’ll have to see what else we could do, including sounding the alarm to our residents and moving our alert system to red.”