Average number of daily new cases up 250% in Harris County, judge says

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Harris Co. judge calls new COVID-19 trends 'alarming and deadly'
Judge Lina Hidalgo wants you to do two things this holiday season: don't gather in large groups and get tested for COVID-19.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants you to do two things this holiday season: don't gather in large groups and get tested for COVID-19.

In her remarks during a briefing on Tuesday, Hidalgo announced the recent trends regarding the virus in Harris County, which she called "alarming and deadly."

"Since the start of the fall, late September, the number of average new daily cases we report in Harris County has increased 250%," said Hidalgo.

In a message that nearly mirrored Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's message issued on Monday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is asking everyone to limit gatherings and take a COVID-19 test ahead of Thanksgiving. Hear her opening remarks of her briefing on Tuesday in the video above.

She added the positivity rate in the county was up 30% during that time frame and is now 8.2%.

READ ALSO: Someone dies from COVID-19 every 2 hours in Harris Co., data shows

"With over 220 COVID patients in the ICU and over 500 patients in the general population, the COVID population in our hospitals is tracking the trends we saw right before the crises in June and July," said Hidalgo. "Almost 1,200 died in July and our hospitals were full during that time."

She described Harris County's situation as "a frog in boiling water," emphasizing the need for people to limit gatherings and to get tested for the virus. The staggering statistics come nearly a week before Thanksgiving, which was a focal point during Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's briefing on Monday.

"Don't invite COVID to Thanksgiving dinner," Turner urged, suggesting foregoing larger gatherings would be worth living another year.

READ MORE: Houston's positivity rate rises close to 8% ahead of Thanksgiving

"I know we're more than eight months into this crisis, and as a community, we've been beat up and bruised, we've grown tired and we're hungry to go back to normal," said Hidalgo. "It's human nature to get complacent, to want to give in, to be tired, that's normal, but we can't do that right now."

Meanwhile, the county's top medical expert, who's played a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19, gave what may be his final address to the county as he prepares to leave his position for a new job in Washington state.

Dr. Umair Shah echoed Hidalgo's sentiment and asked everyone to stay alert this holiday season.

WATCH: Dr. Shah's message to public as he prepares to leave position

As his impending departure comes in the midst of heightened concern over the virus' spread in the county ahead of the holiday season, here's his message to you.

Hidalgo was asked about El Paso County, which is dealing with an outbreak, in which a five-week lockdown was proposed but defeated in court.

"Knowing this, does this mean you won't attempt to shut down in the future here in Harris County?" asked a reporter.

Hidalgo responded saying, "We've been watching, obviously, the litigation very, very closely and we're always keeping all options open. What I'm focusing on right now is two things: first making sure that the governor's office is aware of the numbers we're seeing and how pretty much they're tracking what we'd seen in June .. and second, being very clear with the community."

READ MORE: Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo on rising cases: 'Another pull-back is necessary'

Could this mean another shut down for Harris County? If so, will it be different from the first? Here's what we know.