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Harris County ranks 5th in US for COVID-19 case growth

Doctors say to not assume that relaxed restrictions mean the threat of the coronavirus is behind us.

HOUSTON — Doctors in the Texas Medical Center say the number of COVID-19 cases in the Houston area is climbing at a concerning rate. A month ago, Harris County was 29th in the country when it came to the average number of new coronavirus cases added every day. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the county rose to 10th most two weeks ago.

Now, Harris County has the fifth-highest rate in the country, adding an average of 282 cases per day.

Dr. Jamie McCarthy, EVP and Chief Physician Executive with Memorial Hermann Hospital, has been following the numbers closely. He said hospitalizations have been on the rise over the last two weeks.

He said that while it isn’t time to hit the panic button, because there’s still plenty of ICU space in the Texas Medical Center, it also isn’t time to be complacent.

“Just because the overall volume of COVID patients in the hospital is not overwhelming, the more those get the harder it is as a healthcare community to manage everyone else’s other healthcare needs. People are still having heart attacks, they’re still having strokes, they’re still having appendicitis, and they’re still getting pneumonia,” McCarthy said.

Health experts said it’s more important than ever for people to wash their hands, wear masks in public, stay home when they’re sick and social distance.

“It is certainly reasonable to figure out how to safely socialize with your friends, whether that’s on a patio where you can maintain six feet of separation or whether that’s in a front yard where you can pull up chairs and sit with your neighbors and be separated. That makes sense,” McCarthy said.

RELATED: For the third straight day, Texas sees record-number of COVID-19 hospitalizations

RELATED: Harris County's coronavirus numbers are moving 'in the wrong direction,' health experts warn

RELATED: Map: Keeping track of Houston-area coronavirus cases

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