Houston coronavirus updates: Mayor Turner seeking two-week shutdown; 1 in 4 tests coming back positive

Mayor Sylvester Turner said July 13 that he would like to see a two-week stay-home order in Houston. (Courtesy HTV)
Mayor Sylvester Turner said July 13 that he would like to see a two-week stay-home order in Houston. (Courtesy HTV)

Mayor Sylvester Turner said July 13 that he would like to see a two-week stay-home order in Houston. (Courtesy HTV)

Amid rising coronavirus case counts and hospitalization rates in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner responded with a number of announcements related to efforts to stem the virus’ spead and growing positivity rates.

Houston reported 1,544 new coronavirus cases from test results received over the weekend, and the total death count in the city rose by 8 to 277.

Mayor seeking ability to order new stay-home order

Turner said the growth rate of new cases in Houston likely cannot be stemmed by the statewide mask order alone. He said he would prefer to be able to issue a two-week stay-at-home order or to scale back to the Phase 1-level restrictions established by the state in late April, which include limiting businesses to 25% capacity and limiting gathering to 10 people or less.

Currently, the mayor does not have the authority to issue such restrictions because Gov. Greg Abbott’s response supersedes local orders. So far, Turner said he has not gained any indication from Abbott that he will be granted that ability.

“I think we need to reset and then look at the data and then determine where we go from there,” Turner said.

Positivity rate remains above 25%, concentrated in low-income areas

Houston’s positivity rate, the amount of positive tests compared to total test administered, remains above 25%, Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said.

As seen earlier in the outbreak, the majority of the residents contracting the virus live on the east and northeast sides of the city, where people are more likely to hold service industry and public-facing jobs that cannot be performed from home.

Persse said residents of other areas of Houston should not consider themselves less at risk of falling ill, however, because residents of the ZIP codes with higher positivity rates work and interact with others throughout the city.

“Please don’t misunderstand that those ZIP codes with lower positivity rates are safe. There is still viral activity in those ZIP codes,” Persse said.

Area hospitals, former nursing homes began adapting for coronavirus patients

A United Memorial Medical Center location will become the third Houston hospital to convert a wing for use as a coronavirus treatment site rather than its typical use, Persse said.

A former nursing home in the Willowbrook area is also being used as a temporary “medical resort” for coronavirus patients who no longer need intensive care but still need medical attention before getting discharged.

Additional support from the National Guard arrived July 13 to help with coronavirus response efforts, Persse said.


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