Harris County raises COVID-19 threat level to red among growing number of cases

By George Slaughter, News Editor
Posted 1/11/22

In response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases, Harris County Commissioners Court agreed to purchase up to 65,000 rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits for $1.8 million.

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Harris County raises COVID-19 threat level to red among growing number of cases

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In response to a growing number of COVID-19 cases, Harris County Commissioners Court agreed to purchase up to 65,000 rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits for $1.8 million. It also approved a $41.5 million agreement with Angel Staffing for medical staffing services.

These actions, taken in emergency session Tuesday, follow Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s raising the declaration on Monday that Harris County’s COVID-19 threat level be raised again to Level I, red, the most severe of the four levels.

“We find ourselves yet again crossing a threshold we don't want to cross,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Monday when announcing the threat level change. “We are in the midst of another COVID-19 tsunami.”

Hidalgo said the threat level was raised because of a lack of action by those who refuse to get vaccinated. She urged people who have not been vaccinated to do so.

The county describes Level I as meaning that outbreaks are both present and worsening, and that public health capacity is strained or exceeded. It urges unvaccinated residents to minimize contact when possible. The county urges unvaccinated residents to continue to wear masks, maintain physical distances, and avoid all gatherings.

Vaccinated residents are asked to follow the latest local public health guidance on whether to wear a mask while indoors, in public spaces, and for activities with others who are not fully vaccinated.

Two indicators compelled this move. One involves hospital usage. The hospital usage goal is a 14-day average of COVID-19 hospital population in Harris County to be below 15%. As of Tuesday, that figure was 18.2%.

The other indicator involves total new COVID-19 cases. The total new COVID-19 case goal is less than 100 per 100,000 population over a seven-day period. As of Monday, the figure was 941 cases per 100,000 people.

This is the third time Harris County has adopted this threat level since 2020.

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