HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Despite more cases and another death from the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Wednesday he is leaving the city's 300 parks open.
But in the same breath, Turner vowed to close them if social distancing measures are ignored.
Turner addressed the status of parks for the upcoming holiday weekend after Harris County ordered its own parks to shut down.
The Houston parks and recreation department has already taken down volleyball nets and basketball rims and roped off playground equipment. In addition, Turner authorized park rangers to close any park at any time if social distancing was not being followed.
In short, Turner repeated this guideline for any park-goer: if it's crowded, go to another park.
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The city saw another rise in the number of coronavirus cases and one more death due to the disease.
With 60 new cases, Houston has identified 1,380 patients with COVID-19 since early March. In addition, a woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions was identified as the city's 12th coronavirus death.
Speaking to the impact the virus has had on minorities, Turner said eight of the 12 deaths so far were African Americans. Two more were Hispanics. The remaining two were Caucasian. All of them had underlying health issues.
Turner also offered "granular" information on the Houston area's medical response to people who have fallen ill to COVID-19.
In Houston, about 25 percent of the city's ICU beds, or 368, have been occupied by COVID-19 patients. About 33 percent of beds, or 487, have been occupied by patients without the virus.
There are a little over 600 beds available in the area, and that capacity can expand to 1,370, Turner said, based on data from the Texas Medical Center.
As a step further, 6 percent of ventilators in the area are currently being used for coronavirus-related patients. There are 1,855 ventilators, or 79 percent, available.
As of Wednesday evening, the Houston area, which includes Harris and neighboring counties, has hovered around 3,700 cases. Most of those cases did not require hospitalization, or involves a patient who has recovered.
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