In response to the growing number of new COVID-19 Delta variant cases and hospitalizations, Fort Bend County Judge KP George today raised the COVID risk level from Yellow (moderate risk) to Orange (significant risk). Stopping short of a mandate, George called for all county employees to wear masks when in county buildings and facilities.
George was joined by co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital Dr. Peter Hotez, Fort Bend County Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Jacqueline Minter, County Attorney Bridgette Smith-Lawson, District Attorney Brian Middleton, County Tax Assessor Carmen Turner, District Clerk Beverly Walker, student Anshumi Jahavari, and Pastor Starkweather of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church.
Judge George expressed concern about the challenges facing elected officials after Governor Abbott’s executive order removing the ability of school leaders, government agencies, counties, and municipalities to protect our staff and visitors with all public health measures available to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We have been successful with vaccinations because from day one we took this virus seriously, and we took action by setting up testing and vaccine sites and adding a mobile unit to reach the socially vulnerable in our community,” Judge George remarked. “Now it’s time for us to take additional action to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”
In Fort Bend County an average of 195 new COVID cases were reported each day during the last recording week which is an increase of 149 cases per day over the previous month and more than twice the average new cases reported over the last week. Moreover, hospitalization for COVID-19-related illnesses in Fort Bend County averaged 121 patients per day, an increase of 70 patients a day compared to the average from the previous month.
The most current data shows that at least 84% of the virus circulation in Fort Bend County is of the Delta variant. Over 90% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Fort Bend hospitals are unvaccinated. Ninety-Six percent of COVID-19-related deaths are occurring in those who are unvaccinated. Currently, 16% of Fort Bend’s COVID-19 cases are occurring in children 11 and younger.
George reiterated that masking has been proven to significantly mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and reminded residents that COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the most effective protection, something Hotez supports especially as students head back to school.
“Things are about to get even worse as schools start to open. If we are really committed to in-person classes, this means all the middle schools and high schools teachers, all of the staff, the bus drivers, all of the adolescents need to get vaccinated and wear masks in the classroom as well,” said Hotez.
Additionally, George announced starting today in Commissioner’s Court physical distancing will be reinforced and next week health screenings will resume for all employees and visitors to county facilities.
For the latest updates on coronavirus information and assistance in finding a testing or vaccination site, go to https://www.coronavirusfortbend.gov/.
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