'We need to remain vigilant': Houston Medical director responds to Texas reopenings

Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said May 18 that the rate of new cases in Houston remained relatively flat but urged residents to continue maintaining distance from others and wearing face coverings. (Courtesy HTV)
Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said May 18 that the rate of new cases in Houston remained relatively flat but urged residents to continue maintaining distance from others and wearing face coverings. (Courtesy HTV)

Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said May 18 that the rate of new cases in Houston remained relatively flat but urged residents to continue maintaining distance from others and wearing face coverings. (Courtesy HTV)

As additional businesses such as bars and child care facilities gained approval for phased re-openings in Texas, Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said residents need to be aware that the coronavirus is still actively circulating in the community.

The Houston Health Department reported 139 new cases of the virus May 18 and one new death, continuing a trend of positive cases occurring in the city.

“We have a very flat, maybe slightly decreasing trend of new cases of the virus,” Persse said at a May 18 news conference. “Right now, Houstonians need to be proud that they’ve done a very good job. ... But the virus continues to spread, and we need to remain vigilant as we maintain our daily activities.”

Persse said residents should still wear masks and maintain distance from others to prevent spurring an additional spike in cases. Persse said he will avoid some businesses in the coming weeks, including gyms which are set to reopen May 22.

As testing numbers increase, Persse said the health department will continue to monitor the rate of positive tests. If it climbs, it is more likely that there undetected cases are more prevalent in the community. Mayor Sylvester Turner recently committed $200 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding toward increased testing sites and hiring contact tracers to isolate positive cases.


Houston and Harris County's Stay Home order began March 24 and eased May 1 when Gov. Greg Abbott began the state's re-opening plan.

“When you’ve held people in their homes and now, someone else comes along and says, 'You can now go out,' that’s a popular thing. That’s what people want to hear,” Turner said. “...this is the sort of virus that you don’t see the impact for two or three weeks or a month down the road. My hope is that everything that is taking place in our state will work, and we can reopen without seeing any additional spikes.”
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.


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