Harris Co. Public Health Authority Dr. Shah warns of pandemic fatigue before leaving post

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Public Health Authority Dr. Umair Shah led the state's most populated county through hurricanes, food illness outbreaks, H1N1, Zika, chemical explosions and now, the greatest public health crisis of our lives.

"I don't think any of us really thought that we would be even doing these things, and it would change and transform society the way it has," said Shah, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just a day after announcing his plans to leave Harris County after seven years as the Executive Director for Public Health, Dr. Shah says he is concerned for our neighbors in El Paso and Amarillo.

He is reiterating the health warning.

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"It is a rubber band. It stretches, stretches. There comes a point where our healthcare system stretches and eventually, it breaks, and when that happens, it's too late," he warned.

Dr. Shah said now is the time to prevent a third disastrous wave of the virus.

WATCH: ABC13's Shelley Childers sits down with Dr. Umair Shah
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FULL INTERVIEW: "If we do this well and get through the holidays, guess what's right around the corner? Vaccines," Shah said.



He has seen Houston and Harris County pull through devastation and uncertainty in the past.

Shah says he has faith our community can work collectively by wearing the mask, washing hands, watching our distance and using will power to just stay home.



"If we do this well and get through the holidays, guess what's right around the corner? Vaccines," Shah said. "But if we don't do this well, we are going to have a real issue, and that's when we're going to be in trouble, and that's when that rubber band breaks."

Shah tells ABC13 he made the decision to leave Harris County Public Health in the middle of a pandemic because he believes his service is needed in Washington state.
There, he will work with Gov. Jay Inslee as the Secretary of Health.

His last day with Harris County is December 18th.

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