Residents are advised to “Stay Home, Work Safe – unless vaccinated.”
The COVID Threat Level, presently at Level 2 Orange in Harris County, will increase to Level 1 Red today, a county official confirmed to KHOU 11.
In a news conference with Mayor Sylvester Turner scheduled for 1 pm Thursday afternoon, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo intends to raise the COVID-19 threat level to its highest point: Level 1 Red.
Harris County had recently escaped Level Red in May, when it was lowered to Orange in lieu of minimal hospital admissions, deaths, and positivity rates below 5 percent. Before then, Houston had been in Level Red for 11 months.
“Level 1 signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County,” the Harris County Public Health website reads, “meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded.”
In the short time between May and now, cases and hospitalization rates in Harris County have surged, and positivity rates have gone up to 16 percent. Officials and researchers have pointed out the delta variant as well as eligible but unvaccinated individuals as the cause of this.
According to Houston Chronicle, hospitalization rates are “on pace to set a pandemic record in about a week.”
During a press conference earlier this morning, county officials urged unvaccinated residents to get the vaccine as soon as possible to combat the surging number of cases. At this present moment, 55% of eligible residents of Harris County are fully vaccinated.
Earlier this morning, Dallas County also increased the threat level to red.
To be clear, local governments in Texas cannot legally mandate orders, rendering the threat level system as a guide to businesses and residents.