COVID-19 cases rising again, governor and local leaders respond

By Sandra Sadek | Times Editorial Intern
Posted 6/17/20

The reopening of the Texas economy has sparked a second wave of COVID-19 across the state, prompting county officials to respond.

According to the Texas Department of Health Services, 89,108 cases …

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COVID-19 cases rising again, governor and local leaders respond

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The reopening of the Texas economy has sparked a second wave of COVID-19 across the state, prompting county officials to respond.

According to the Texas Department of Health Services, 89,108 cases have been diagnosed statewide and about 28,000 of those remain active. As of 3:30 p.m. on June 16 the DSHS reports 1,983 fatalities. Harris County currently has the most cases in the state, with a reported number of 16,778 cases. Waller County currently reports 90 cases. The Fort Bend County reports 2,385 current confirmed cases in the county, with 49 deaths.

In a press conference on June 16, Gov. Greg Abbott reassured the public that the state has enough beds available to deal with the increased number of cases and that the public shouldn’t worry.

Statewide, the total number of beds available is 14,993, with only 27% of those beds currently available, Abbott said. The total number of ICU beds and classic ventilators available is 1,675 and 5,869 respectivelly.

The Office of the Governor also released a five-level response plan for medical surge facilities to aid with the number of beds available for hospitals. Level 5 is considered a safe level and Level 1 is considered an emergency. According to Abbott, the state of Texas is still at Level 5.

For the Katy area, which includes Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties, there are a total number of 12,458 reported beds, 21% of which are available. There are 247 ICU beds available and 795 lab-confirmed, hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George shared multiple news articles over the weekend about the importance of wearing face coverings as COVID-19 cases resurge in Texas.

“The US Surgeon General on Sunday urged people to wear face coverings, saying they will promote freedom during the coronavirus pandemic,” George wrote. “Dr. Jerome Adams pushed back on the idea that face coverings infringe on freedoms, saying they're important to slow the spread of coronavirus and reopen the economy.”

George also launched a new $22 million Small Business Grant Program on June 15 to address financial hardships for small businesses due to COVID-19. The allocated money comes from the CARES Act.

The grants will be available to small businesses that incurred eligible expenses under the CARES Act, up to $10,000 per business. This includes the purchase of personal protective equipment, reopening supplies, renovations, equipment, inventory, and remote working expenses as well as lease and mortgage assistance and utilities. Businesses must have incurred these expenses as of April 3, 2020, the date the county issued the Stay-at-Home order.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon reminded residents to continue following CDC guidelines and that testing sites are available throughout the county in a Facebook post.

“Waller County, unfortunately, is consistent with other jurisdictions with the rise in COVID-19 cases. Just another reminder we all need to do our part to mitigate the spread,” Duhon wrote.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo shared an alert on her Facebook that the county is now at a Level 2, meaning there is a significant and uncontrolled transmission of COVID-19 in Harris County and residents should minimize all contacts.

Celebrities have also been speaking up about wearing masks in public, such as Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith who, in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, released a new public service announcement entitled “Wear A Mask On And Off The Field.”

"I wear a face mask every single day on the football field to protect myself. Now I’m switching it up to a different mask to protect myself and others around me,” Smith said in the video. “As we open up Texas, it’s crucial that we all do our part in this fight against COVID-19. So, when you leave the house, make sure you wash your hands, make sure you practice social distancing, and last but not least, wear a mask.”

An interactive map of current cases in the state of Texas and each county can be found on the Texas DSHS website.

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