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Houston-area bars forced to close, dining-in no longer allowed at restaurants for next 15 days

Houston and Harris County have a total of 13 coronavirus cases.

HOUSTON — Houston bars and restaurants have been ordered to follow new restrictions for the next 15 days in an effort to curb coronavirus exposure, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago announced Monday.

Bars and nightclubs must close. Meanwhile, restaurants can only delivery, pickup and drive-thru services. No in-dining service is allowed. 

These new restrictions kick in March 17 at 8 a.m. and apply to all drinking and eating establishments within the Houston city limits, Harris County and unincorporated Harris County areas.

"I know this is very difficult. It's a difficult time, and that's why we're taking extraordinary measures," Hildago said. "History will say that we prioritized human life. History will say that we erred on the side of action. This doesn't work unless we all buy in."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Hildalgo and other local leaders in announcing the decision. He said the city is enforcing the same guidelines.

"What we are attempting to do is slow down the progression and not burden our healthcare system," Turner tweeted. "This is not a city lockdown, but measured steps we are implementing. Every time we take a step, it does affect people's lives."

He add government officials are making tough decision that are in the people's best interest. 

Both city and county officials said the decision was made to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, the Emergency Operations Center at Houston TranStar has been activated to Level 1, which is the highest level of activation. This decision was made so resources are readily available to respond to the coronavirus crisis. 

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The decision comes hours after President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control announced their recommendation of limiting groups to 10 people or less.

States like New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have already made the decision to shut down its bars and restaurants. Other states like Ohio, Washington, Louisiana and California have also followed suit.

Houston and Harris County have a total of 13 coronavirus cases.

Coronavirus symptoms

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.

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.

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.

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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