HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Ahead of Christmas, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner are urging residents to be safe and to cancel all holiday parties if possible after seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"It's tempting, especially during the holidays, to think it's okay to visit friends and family now, especially now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 vaccine," Hidalgo said. "Right now, in the holiday season, as the virus rages on around the nation and our state, we face the greatest challenge yet."
Hidalgo added that the number of patients in the ICU has not stopped rising.
"All across Texas, communities are entering dangerous territories," Hidalgo said. "The way to show your loved ones that you love them this holiday season is to stay home, to put your plans on hold this year."
Judge Hidalgo said she and Turner wanted to join forces to convey the seriousness of how important it is for everyone to cancel gatherings this year.
Mayor Turner followed Hidalgo's statements, saying he agreed with her as they have talked about where the city and county stand right now.
"The positivity rate is increasing. Our ICUs are up from where they were six weeks ago and now we're getting ready to go right into the heart of the holiday season," Turner said. "Reschedule those [holiday] plans for some time next year. It's important to do that to keep loved ones and yourself safe.
During the briefing, Turner said 634 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Wednesday, which brought the city's total up to 112,056.
Houston Health Department's Dr. David Persse also weighed in during the briefing and said the virus is spreading most during closed gatherings, not controlled environments like work or school.
"Around the holiday season, this is the time we're going to have family members come together, who are really comfortable with each other, because they're family members, and that's when we have a tendency to drop our guard. That's the exact places we're seeing the [COVID-19] spread." said Dr. Persse.
Ahead of the briefing, Houston business owners feared another shutdown could be underway. While leaders have chosen not yet to put a curfew in place, Hidalgo said they are not ruling it out.