Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo designates COVID-19 'recovery czar'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a press conference Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo named State Rep. Armando Walle the Harris County recovery czar to help guide the county through the fight against coronavirus.

Walle was elected State Representative in 2008 and represents the Aldine area.

He serves as a member on the House committees of higher education, redistricting, local and consent calendars and appropriations.

Walle is no stranger to serving on these types of issues as he has a history of fighting for health, safety and economic well-being of families.

Walle will not be paid for his role, and ensured reporters there's no conflict with his law firm. He said he will not take on any future contracts with the county in return

Hidalgo announced that there are over 4,800 coronavirus cases in Harris County and 79 deaths, not including the City of Houston.

Hidalgo said although the area was seeing a rise in hospital intakes, it appears the curve has flattened because of social distancing efforts across the county.

She emphasized that although we're not out of the woods yet, if we work together, the sum of each of our parts is what will get our economy back.

Hidalgo also announced that she and Mayor Turner have worked together to establish two relief and recovery czars for the area.

Each community leader selected their own czar.

The goal is to make sure the relief and recovery is inclusive, fast, and coordinated.

"It will take years to fully recover from this. It will take talent, it will take creativity, but luckily we have that in Harris County," Hidalgo said.

She said it's important for recovery to be inclusive and cover underrepresented groups, including undocumented immigrants in Harris County.

"We must be laser focused and ready to get the most funds into this community as quickly as possible," Hidalgo stressed.

Hidalgo reminded the public that just because they named a czar doesn't mean the crisis is over.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will announce a COVID-19 recover czar for the city at a separate press conference Monday.

The selected leader will work with the business sector, nonprofit organizations and others to develop a plan to safely and responsibly move Houston forward.

Turner told ABC13 he wants to get the economy running again, but the key is more testing.

As we wait for the announcement, testing has resumed at the Harris County and Houston locations.

Testing locations were closed across the county Sunday due to severe weather.

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