Houston coronavirus updates: Positivity rate on the rise; officials recommend limiting holiday gatherings

Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade was canceled and replaced with a food distribution event. (Courtesy HTV)

Houston's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade was canceled and replaced with a food distribution event. (Courtesy HTV)

As coronavirus case counts and hospitalization rates begin to rise in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Emergency Medical Director Dr. David Persse issued recommendations to limit large gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving.

Houston reported 141 new coronavirus cases Nov. 16, and the total death count in the city rose by two, up to 1,398.

Positivity rate trending up

Houston’s positivity rate was falling consistently after the city’s mid-summer peak but has begun to rise again in recent weeks. As of Nov. 16, the city’s positivity rate was 7.9%, up from a reported 5% in mid-October.

While Houston is faring better than other cities in the state, such as El Paso, Turner said that the current trends merit a warning.

“[The coronavirus] is just not going to go away on its own. ... As we look at these positivity rates, we are ringing the alarm bells,” he said.

Holiday plans

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Turner and Persse advised residents to get tested for the coronavirus before gathering with others and limiting groups to 10 or fewer. They also recommended limiting or avoiding travel and gatherings before and after the holiday.

“Use caution when it comes to holiday travel,” Turner said. “I want to encourage you to avoid going to areas of large community spread.”

Small outdoor gatherings with masks and social distancing are “moderate-risk,” according to Houston Health Department Guidance. Dining with household members is “low-risk,” and large, indoor gatherings are “high-risk,” according to the same guidance.

Annual parade replaced with food distribution event

Turner announced the city’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade will be replaced with a food distribution event for families in need at NRG Stadium from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 21.
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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