Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo discusses county vaccination efforts

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo visited a mobile vaccine unit Wednesday morning, and offered an update on the county’s efforts to vaccinate residents.

The county health department has administered the first dose to 238,797 people, while 182,124 have received both doses.

Hidalgo urged the county’s adult residents to get vaccinated.

“How long? I mean look, we could be through with this into the summer if we get vaccinated and spread the word. If we don’t, it’s a race against time against these variants so let’s all do our part, get vaccinated and spread the word.”

Harris County remains at its highest COVID-19 threat level.

“The decision as to what our threat level is is not something that I decide based on a feeling or based on an arbitrary date like some folks have done and said ‘Well, we want to open everything by such and such date,’” said Hidalgo. “Because the virus doesn’t abide by arbitrary deadlines.”

In Harris County, the 14-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases is 533, the positivity rate is 8.5 percent and the 14-day average of virus patient occupancy of ICU beds is 15.76 percent.

Hidalgo said the county’s COVID-19 threat level will go down once the positivity rate reduces down to five percent, the 14-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases lowers to at least 400 and the 14-day average of virus patient occupancy of ICU beds is at 15 percent or lower.

“The reality is this threat level system is an accurate representation, per the experts, of the impact of COVID-19 on the community and what we should do to try and keep not just the community healthy but also generally the economy is tied to the health and people’s confidence in being able to go out,” said Hidalgo.

Metrics continue to improve and Hidalgo said that while she’s optimistic, several factors concern her: Though the numbers are “flattening out,” they’re not “lowering as quickly as they were before and that’s what happens every time before things start going back up again. Second thing is every time there’s been a reopening, within about a month and a half, the numbers have been climbing back up.”

“I hope we don’t see what we’ve seen already two or three times over but we can’t say for sure so let’s hope that those numbers keep trending down,” said Hidalgo. “That’s why we’re vaccinating people as efficiently as possible.”

Hidalgo urged residents to continue taking “common sense” measures including wearing face masks and avoiding gatherings with individuals outside

“It’s not forever. It’s just for as long as COVID and we know we can get through in a couple months if we get vaccinated, if we do our part.”

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