HOUSTON — Editor's note: The attached video originally aired on an earlier date.
All Houston, Harris County and Missouri City parks and trails will be closed through Easter weekend.
But Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced Friday that county parks there will remain open to the public. County Parks & Recreation Department have installed new signage to educate the public on best social distancing practices.
“It is important for physical and mental health to exercise, get sunlight, and take a nice walk during these difficult times. For that reason, I am keeping our county parks and trails open to the community,” George said Friday.
Other local leaders say it's not worth the risk.
After initially saying he wouldn't close city parks, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner changed his mind Thursday and announced all 380 parks will be shut down to encourage social distancing and discourage gatherings.
"Social distancing is so important and to reinforce that, I’ve already notified as of this evening, our parks and trails are going to be closed as of this weekend," Turner said.
Just over a quarter of city parks will be blocked off with gates. Crews will deploy barricades at the others.
Park rangers will patrol parks they can't barricade to make sure people steer clear.
In the last week, Turner also had crews remove basketball goals and volleyball nets in Houston parks to discourage gatherings.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order Wednesday to shut down county parks, beginning Friday.
The parks will close Thursday night at 8 p.m. and reopen Monday morning.
“We are at a critical moment in our fight against COVID-19, and we cannot afford to let our guard down,” Judge Hidalgo said. “We’re heartened that the actions we’re taking are already saving as many as 4,500 lives across Harris County. For so many of our residents, Easter and Passover is a time for spiritual fellowship with others, and I want to encourage that to continue at home and online during this critical period. The sooner we come through this together, the faster we’ll be able to return to normalcy and get our economy back up and running again."
Missouri City is also closing city parks -- along with Quail Valley Golf Course -- for the weekend.
“Until now, the Quail Valley Golf Course served as one of the ways for there to be some sense of normalcy during this difficult time, but it is vital that we are doing everything we can to help keep people safe,” said Interim City Manager Bill Atkinson. “This was not an easy decision for anybody to make, but we need to ensure the safety of our residents.”
Parks are a popular spot for family picnics and Easter egg hunts so there was concern social distancing rules would be ignored.
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Follow social distancing
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
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