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What happens in July will determine how Houston will handle reopening schools next month

Mayor Turner said he thinks a two-week shutdown or scaling back to Phase 1 of Texas' reopening plan would help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

HOUSTON — During a news conference on Monday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said what happens in July will determine how the city moves forward with the reopening of schools next month.

"What we do today and over the next few weeks will be" critical in getting the virus under control, Turner said. Turner stressed the fact that the coronavirus continues to "run rampant" and is "out of control." He said the actions we take today are critical to getting the virus back to something we can manage.

The City of Houston reported 1,544 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the city's total to 30,965. Turner also reported eight new COVID-19-related deaths in the city, bringing the death count to 277.

He said that the virus doesn't discriminate and noted the fact that Rockets guard Russell Westbrook announced he has the virus. He said the more people who mask up, the better our chances are of beating the virus.

"The virus doesn't care who you are or what your economic status is ... it will impact you," Turner said.

Turner wants the economy and businesses to remain open but said scaling back to Phase 1 of Texas' reopening process would be beneficial. He said he wants to see numbers go down, and right now, they're not. Turner said he thinks Houston should return to the "Stay Home, Work Safe" model for another two weeks.

Also at the briefing on Monday was Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse, who said the positivity rate in Houston has nearly doubled in the last couple of months, from 14.7% on May 1 to 26.8% in mid-July. Persse said the virus is still very active in our area and it's spreading in the community.

"Our destiny is in our own hands. ... Follow the rules, it's not that hard. We have been successful before and we can be successful again," Persse said.

HFD Chief Sam Pena said there are 190 firefighters in quarantine and two are in the hospital. One firefighter is in ICU but is not intubated at this time. He said all HFD fire stations are open and all ambulances are in service.

RELATED: Do we need to shut down again? Local expert says it's time to put a plan in place to slow spread of COVID-19

RELATED: 'It makes no sense' | Mayor Turner disagrees with sending kids back to school

RELATED: Here's why COVID-19 deaths in Houston may be under-counted

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