National study predicts June coronavirus spike in Houston area

Houston could experience a significant increase in new coronavirus cases in June, about a month after businesses began reopening across the state, a national study suggests. (Courtesy Pexels)
Houston could experience a significant increase in new coronavirus cases in June, about a month after businesses began reopening across the state, a national study suggests. (Courtesy Pexels)

Houston could experience a significant increase in new coronavirus cases in June, about a month after businesses began reopening across the state, a national study suggests. (Courtesy Pexels)

Houston could experience a significant increase in new coronavirus cases in June, about a month after businesses began reopening across the state.

A nationwide study updated May 20 from the PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia used cellphone data, case count data, average daily temperatures and other demographic information to make the prediction and singled out other early-to-open areas of the U.S., including Texas and Florida.

“Unfortunately, we are already seeing some areas move too quickly and without enough vigilance,” said Dr. Gregory Tasian, a faculty member at the PolicyLab, in a news release accompanying the report.

Cellphone movement data put Harris County and its surrounding counties among the lowest end of the spectrum for social distancing compliance in the country with travel to nonessential businesses reducing by 25%-50% compared to prepandemic times.

Since phased reopenings began in late April, Harris County’s case count has grown by between about 150 and 250 new cases per day without significant spikes despite a growing number of testing sites opened across the city.


A Harris County-specific model from the report estimates the county could see as many as 2,247 new cases in one day as soon as June 7.

Dr. David Persse, the city of Houston's director of emergency medicine, said most changes in public health policy, such as enacting or easing social distancing measures, take time to have a noticeable effect on case counts.

While the report noted the virus’s spread can slow while businesses reopen with strict hygiene measures and mask usage, varying levels of compliance will threaten early gains in suppressing it.

“The risk for seeing increasing case counts rests solely on how cautiously [areas] reopen communities and manage crowding,” said Dr. Jing Huang, faculty member at PolicyLab at CHOP.

View the full report here.


MOST RECENT

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan announced the district's 2020-21 reopening plans July 15. (Screenshot via HISD)
Houston ISD reopening: 10 things to know about the 2020-21 plan

"It’s going to take a lot of flexibility … but we’re going to do right by our children and right by our staff," interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan told reporters July 15.

The way elections are run and voters are registered in Harris County could look different following the 2020 elections, as Harris County Commissioners Court has begun exploring alternatives to the county's current democratic system. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County begins exploring voter registration, election alternatives

The way elections are run and voters are registered in Harris County could look different following the 2020 elections, as Harris County Commissioners Court has begun exploring alternatives to the county's current democratic system.

Houston ISD will hold online instruction for the first six weeks of the 2020-21 school year. (Community Impact staff)
Houston ISD to begin 2020-2021 academic school year online for first 6 weeks

All students will begin the school year virtually when classes begin Sept. 8.

Oak Ridge High School held graduation for an audience of family members in two ceremonies with social distancing measures in place. (Courtesy Conroe ISD)
Teachers, parents express concern about what 2020-21 could hold for Houston-area schools

As school districts throughout the Greater Houston area begin to release details about what in-person and virtual learning options will look like in the fall, questions remain for local parents and educators.

online
Gov. Abbott: Texas Education Agency to extend online learning option for school districts in 2020-21 school year

Texas school districts may be able to continue online learning for longer than three weeks, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

Walmart and Sam's Club leaders announced in a press release July 15 all stores nationwide will require shoppers to wear a face covering beginning July 20. (Courtesy Walmart)
UPDATED: Kroger joins Walmart, Sam's Club in requiring face coverings in all stores

Additionally, all Walmart stores will have a single entrance beginning July 20.

The Texas Renaissance Festival returns to Todd Mission for its 46th season Oct. 3. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival to offer limited number of date-specific tickets July 18; face masks encouraged during 46th season

Should the festival season be canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, all tickets will be honored for the 2021 festival season, or guests may request a refund, according to festival information.

Michael Moore has defeated Diana Martinez Alexander in the Democratic primary runoff for Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner, according to unofficial results.
UPDATED: Michael Moore wins Democratic runoff, will face Tom Ramsey in race for Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner seat

With all voting centers reporting, unofficial results show Michael Moore emerging victorious in the Democratic primary runoff election for Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner.

Runoff election results: Wendell Champion clinches Republican U.S. District 18 candidacy with 72% of the vote

Follow election results here for the U.S. House District 18 Republican Primary runoff.