Texas is preparing for its first phase of reopening later this week and so is Harris County.
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Texas will begin to reopen Friday.
For some this is the news they have been wanting for weeks. For others, there is still some concern.
One of those people is Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. During a press conference Tuesday morning, she expressed that she is eager to get the county back up and running, but said Harris County has to be smart about reopening to avoid a second wave.
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“Achieving containment that is sustainable will be a tall order given the May 1st timeline, and we cannot afford to erase the gains our community has sacrificed so much to achieve. Harris County will do everything possible to preserve what we have accomplished thus far, and this framework will help us get there,” Hidalgo said.
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To protect resident from coronavirus, Hidalgo unveiled a three-step framework designed to contain the spread.
The three steps are test, trace and treat.
Hidalgo said the county is doing everything they can to grow testing capabilities and get testing materials to facilities that need them the most — shelters, nursing home, etc.
Hidalgo said a report concluded that every person who tests positive for the virus has likely been around 20 people. She said her goal is to quickly get those people in contact with positive patients tested to stop the spread of the virus and keep new cases below 100 daily.
Starting next week, the county will be able to test 1,600 residents a day.
Hidalgo said she is working to get more testing locations in the county. There are currently six pop up location, including four mobile sites. In addition, you can get tested at two Walgreens in Harris County.
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The county is in the process of recruiting contact tracers who will reach out to people who have come in contact with affected patients and ensure they get tested. They will also instruct these individuals to isolate for two weeks.
Contact tracers will include epidemiologist, scientist, volunteers and other experts who will be in constant communication with those exposed to coronavirus to make sure they are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and others.
The Houston-area hospital systems are taking about 200 admissions a day. Hidalgo said this is not as bad as it could be, but it’s also not great.
Harris County is working on a back-up shelter just in case the hospital systems become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients in the future and officials will continue to work with healthcare providers and other partners to ensure that healthcare capacity is in place as part of planning for another wave of infections.
Hidalgo said when the state reopens she wants everyone in the community to continue to do their part by still practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings.