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Fort Bend health official: People attributing minor COVID-19 symptoms to allergies

The county judge said he is not issuing a shutdown order at this time, but just wants the county to flatten the curve.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Fort Bend County officials raised the COVID-19 threat level to red Wednesday, which is the highest risk category. They made the move after seeing an alarming trend of positive cases, hospitalizations and other things.

“We’re all tired of it but COVID’s not tired of us,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said. “Hospitalizations (are) skyrocketing, ICU (numbers are) soaring in a way that’s alarming to the medical community.”

George said he's not issuing a shutdown order at this time but wants the county to flatten the curve.

“I’m hoping and praying this is not for a long time,” George said.

Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson-Minter, director of Fort Bend County Health & Human Services, said the county has surpassed 25,000 cases as opposed to 20,000 two weeks ago. She said the growth rate reflects that the virus is spreading at a concerning rate.

RELATED: Health official: More people are ignoring the milder symptoms of COVID-19

The director attributed the increase in cases to people gathering in small groups and not wearing masks due to COVID-19 fatigue. She added that she thinks we will see the results of the Thanksgiving holiday gatherings in the next few days.

Johnson-Minter said when they interviewed people, they also explained they had been ignoring milder symptoms like congestion and sore throat that they attributed to allergies.

“You can have allergies and COVID,” she said.

Johnson-Minter said there is a light at the end of the tunnel but the situation in the meantime is not so bright, especially with the holidays approaching. She encouraged families to stay in touch and strengthen relationships, but to use safety measures like we did earlier in the year.

“If we commit today, (there's) hope we have a healthier and happier New Year,” she said.

She explained that if you want to celebrate the holidays, start your bubble now or 14 days prior to contact. Then about five to seven days before, she recommends testing.

George pleaded with residents to mask up, maintain safe distances and hold no large gatherings to help ease the burden on hospitals.

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