HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- While COVID-19 continues to be a nationwide issue, Judge Lina Hidalgo acknowledged Wednesday that a decrease in cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates have trended favorably enough to lower Harris County's coronavirus threat level from red "severe" to orange "significant."
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"Severe" is the highest level and calls for unvaccinated people to stay home unless they need to leave for an essential reason such as going to the grocery store. "Significant" is the second highest level and calls for minimal contact with others unless you are vaccinated.
Due to major holidays coming in the next couple months, Hidalgo is urging unvaccinated people to get the shots to avoid another spike.
"If you're unvaccinated, avoid gatherings, wear a mask and get your vaccine," Hidalgo's office tweeted. "Vaccinated residents are asked to wear masks indoors given significant transmission."
As of Wednesday, 9,119 people in Harris County have died from the virus.
"Over the past several weeks, we've seen an encouraging drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases and our hospital population," said Hidalgo. "This didn't happen by coincidence. It happened because of our community's hard work to step up and increase our vaccination rates.
Although this is good news, Hidalgo did warn that this does not mean the county is out of the woods.
"The decreases in our trends are slowing down while other communities are starting to see spikes, and as we learn to coexist with this virus over the long term, we can't grow complacent," Hidalgo continued. "As the holidays begin to approach, we must stay vigilant to avoid another spike. The only way to do that is to get vaccinated."
The COVID-19 vaccine is still available at no charge for all Harris County residents. For locations and hours, visit the Harris County Public Health website.
These are the four levels of the COVID-19 threat system for Harris County:
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