HOUSTON — Houston officials have been calling for a return to city lockdown as confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in Texas continued to break records over the weekend.
Proposing a shutdown on Saturday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said: “We have to acknowledge the fact that we opened too quickly, too soon,” local media reported.
“We have to acknowledge the fact that the numbers are continuing to rise. We have to recognize the fact that not everybody is going to put on this mask. Let’s just be real, even with the requirement. Knowing all of that and knowing what works, you’ve got to recalibrate.”
Texas reported a daily record high of 10,351 new cases on Saturday, and the city of Houston reported 1,524 new cases and nine deaths linked to the disease on the same day. Across the United States, the total confirmed cases have surged over 3.3 million.
The decision over a lockdown rests with Texas Governor Greg Abbott who warned Friday of another economic shutdown if the fast spread of COVID-19 is not contained.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive,” Abbott told local TV station KLBK.
Texans will also likely see an increase in new coronavirus cases next week, Abbott said, urging people to abide by his face mask mandate to avoid another economic shutdown.
“I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19 … the next step would have to be a lock-down,” the governor said, referring to his mask order.
“Quite frankly, I appreciate the governor putting in the requirement to wear a mask and giving local authorities the ability to restrict outside gatherings,” said Turner. “Even though I don’t have the ability to take us back to phase 1, I strongly recommend that for the next two weeks, that if I were the governor, I would just bring things down, shut things down for the next couple of weeks (and) take the energy away from this virus.”
Houston’s Harris County, Texas’s most populous county, has been the hardest-hit area in the state.
According to a local report published by NBC, hospitals in Houston are almost full due to the surge of COVID-19 cases, and many COVID-19 patients can only wait in emergency rooms because ICUs are overwhelmed. “Normally that patient would just go to an ICU bed, because there are no beds available, they continue to board in the emergency room,” said Harris Health System president and CEO Esmaeil Porsa.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted on Sunday: “Not only do we need a stay at home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens.”
“Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let’s learn from that & not make the same mistake twice,” Hidalgo tweeted.