President 'stripped away' my authority, Harris Co. Judge says

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Judge Hidalgo says her authority was 'stripped away' during pandemic
FULL INTERVIEW: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo went on "GMA3" to discuss the county's response to COVID-19, in-person learning returning and the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- During an interview with "GMA3: What You Need to Know" on Friday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo discussed a number of things including the 2020 presidential election and the county's COVID-19 response.

Hidalgo said although she felt like the area had COVID-19 under control in the earlier stages of the outbreak, she feels President Trump "stripped away her authority" in April, which caused an increase of COVID-19 cases in Texas and Harris County.

"We had things under control here in Harris County. We were doing better than pretty much every major city and major county. But in mid-April, President Trump asked the states to reopen. About a week or two weeks later, Texas followed suit. So, they opened things before we were ready and stripped away my authority," Hidalgo said. "And since then, at that point, we started seeing the sharp increase in cases from which we're still recovering today."

Hidalgo also added that although Houston is seeing a decrease in positive COVID-19 cases, Harris County still has a positivity rate of 10%, when it should be around 5%.

The Harris County Judge briefly spoke about school reopening and in-person instruction returning. Hidalgo said she doesn't want to make the decision to reopen in-person instruction too soon and see Texas or Harris County go through what it went through in May when bars were opened too soon.

SEE MORE: Texas restaurants, bars scramble to reinvent themselves around Gov. Abbott's bar shutdown

"We know how important it is to have in-person instruction. But the places where it's been successful, are the areas where they brought the caseload way down, and that's why it's important not to give up too early," Hidalgo said. "So for me, we have the thresholds where I think there's going to be some percentage of instruction that is safe, but we are seeing around the country, the areas that are opening schools before they're ready, they have to open and shut back down. And same with the other decisions and the impact those decisions have had on the economy. If you do it too soon, ultimately, you invest funds, energy, logistics to open, and then, you have to turn right around and close things again, which is of course a ping pong that is not good for health, and it's not good for confidence in the economy, it's not good for the kids, for the teachers etc."

SEE MORE: Houston-area school districts let some students return to campus

With the pandemic changing so much of our everyday lives, Hidalgo also stressed the importance of voting in this upcoming presidential election.

The Harris County Judge said she's working overtime to ensure the county has a safe, secure and accessible election.

RELATED: Harris County officials want to send mail ballot applications to all registered voters

"We have 24-hour voting in seven locations, we have drive-thru voting, polls will be open until 10 p.m., and we have triple the number of early voting locations. We are trying to be able to send a mail-in ballot application to every voter in Harris County. We're being sued by the state for that, but we keep fighting fundamentally, regardless of who people vote for. We want folks in the largest county in Texas to be able to make their voices heard, and to make sure we're preserving the trust in the key democratic institution, that is voting and elections," Hidalgo said.