HOUSTON — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo answered questions about COVID-19 Monday even while quarantined at home after a possible exposure.
Hidalgo issued a new Stay Home Work Safe advisory Friday but Gov. Abbott has taken away local power to enforce it.
Hidalgo is hoping the governor will reconsider his decision as COVID cases continue to grow at an alarming rate in Houston and other large Texas cities.
“Right now, the message has to be: we are headed toward an unsustainable pace with our hospitals and we need to stay home,” Hidalgo said. “Anything short of that is a gamble with our people.”
The Texas Medical Center’s regular ICU beds reached 100% capacity last week, forcing them to move patients to other areas of their hospitals not normally used for critical care.
Hidalgo said closing bars and limiting restaurants to 50 percent capacity were good steps, but not nearly enough to turn this around.
“This curve isn’t going to flatten itself without drastic action,” she said.
Abbott says closing the state down again will be a last resort and has said reopening was critical for the Texas economy.
Hidalgo argues that reopening too soon was a double whammy for the economy since businesses are now losing customers afraid to shop or eat out because of the surge in cases.
“Now, we’re going to have two hits to the economy,” the county judge said. “Sometimes we have to buckle down and make uncomfortable decisions. We’re smart, we’re tough, we have to remember that.”
Hidalgo plans to extend the current mask order beyond June 30, but it's tied to the disaster order. She has to wait for permission from the Harris County Commissioners Court to extend the disaster order. She expects them to vote on the extension tomorrow.
She said she's showing no symptoms of COVID-19 and plans to continue working virtually through her quarantine.