BREAKING: Houston Rodeo canceled to reduce coronavirus threat

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces the cancelation of the Houston Rodeo on March 11. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces the cancelation of the Houston Rodeo on March 11. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces the cancelation of the Houston Rodeo on March 11. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

In an effort to slow the spread of area coronavirus cases, the remainder of 2020 Houston Rodeo is canceled, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced March 11.

Throughout the month of March, city-produced and -sponsored events are also canceled. This currently includes capital improvement project meetings, the Tour De Houston and the Bayou City Arts Festival.

Turner along with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo both announced they plan to sign emergency declarations for the the city of Houston and Harris County, respectively. The declaration allows both leaders to expedite emergency procedures and receive refunds for services provided to residents as needed.

There are currently several confirmed cases in the Greater Houston area. The first case not related to international travel was reported in Montgomery County, Turner said. A case not related to travel presents evidence of community-based spread, Houston Emergency Health Director David Persse said.

"We are increasing our ability to test; we are working with hospitals and private testing providers. ... If you are are not feeling symptoms, you do not need to be tested," Persse said.


If a person has the virus but receives testing before they are symptomatic, the test will come back negative, he said.

The goal of canceling large gatherings is to slow community transmission and prevent the number of patients seeking care from overwhelming the health care system, Persse said.

Refunds for tickets will be available on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo website, and scholarship commitments will still be held, officials confirmed.

Area hospitals and schools have been updating policies to reduce the risk of a more widespread outbreak in the area.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.