Fort Bend County extends emergency declaration, passes resolution against hate crimes

 coronavirus
Two agenda items related to the coronavirus pandemic were passed by Fort Bend County Commissioners Court at its July 28 regular meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Two agenda items related to the coronavirus pandemic were passed by Fort Bend County Commissioners Court at its July 28 regular meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Two agenda items related to the coronavirus pandemic were passed by the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court at its regular July 28 meeting.

The first, which passed in a 3-2 vote, extended the county’s declaration of local disaster for public health emergency through 11: 59 p.m. Aug. 31, per the motion read by Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage.

Prestage, along with Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken DeMerchant and Judge KP George—all Democrats—voted in favor the item. The Republicans of the court, Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales and Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers, voted against it.

George stated the extension follows the guidance provided by state and local leaders, while Morales said the declaration hurts county businesses and instills fear among residents.

The second agenda item approved, which passed in the same 3-2 vote, was a resolution condemning COVID-19 hate acts against minority communities.


“Fort Bend County denounces antisemitism, anti-Asian bigotry, racism and all hateful speech, violent action and the spread of misinformation related to COVID-19 that casts blame, promotes racism or discrimination or harms Fort Bend County Asian Pacific, Black, Latinx, Jewish, immigrant or other ethnic and religious communities,” the resolution reads.

Specifically, the resolution states that hate crimes against Asian, Pacific Islander and Jewish individuals are on the rise across the U.S. and that these groups are being blamed for the pandemic. The resolution added that using terms such as “Chinese virus” or “Kung Fu or Flu virus” to describe the coronavirus encourages hate crimes. George has also issued statements on social media addressing the increase of racist and xenophobic messages he has received.

The resolution states the county will continue its efforts to protect residents experiencing such acts, and it will investigate them. It encouraged residents to report antisemitic, discriminatory and racist incidents.

Meyers condemned racism and antisemitism but said he felt the resolution was changing county policy too much without input from legal counsel, other elected officials in the county and department heads. He also said he was worried that the resolution violated federal and state law related to the First Amendment.

Morales, meanwhile, expressed concern about the resolution dividing the county. At the public forum portion of the meeting, multiple county residents spoke in praise of the resolution and against it.

"I could support support around resolution condemning hate, but not at the cost of division within our county," Morales said. "[This resolution] condemns hate, but it creates division. ... I could see us coming together supporting a resolution that is not so divisive."

In a press release, George issued a statement related to resolution, and his Facebook page announced he will host virtual panel about the topic at 6 p.m. July 29.

"Unfortunately, not only are our communities fighting back against the highly contagious and invisible COVID-19 virus, but we are pushing back against an increase of hate, xenophobia, and scare tactics against certain members of our community," he said. "These acts have to stop, they are destructive to our community and are not welcomed in Fort Bend County.”
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. She covers education, transportation, local government, business and development in the Katy area.


MOST RECENT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

Newk's Eatery has closed its location in the Katy area. (Courtesy Newk's Eatery)
Newk's Eatery closes Katy-area location

While the Katy location may have closed, Newk's continues to serve diners at its Bunker Hill restaurant.

Fort Bend County's Mobile Health Unit will administer vaccinations in portions of the county that are economically disadvantaged or lack access to transportation, said County Judge KP George. (Screenshot courtesy Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County to administer COVID-19 vaccinations from new Mobile Health Unit

Fort Bend County's Mobile Health Unit will administer vaccinations in portions of the county that are economically disadvantaged or lack access to transportation, County Judge KP George said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Armored Sports camps feature basketball, flag football and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
Armored Sports camps to launch in venues across Greater Houston

A new Christian sports camp for youth is launching this summer in churches across the Greater Houston area.

"Breaking Strongholds" is a faith-based, eight-episode series that explores topics such as suicide and depression. (Courtesy Terry Weaver)
Series shot in Montgomery County aiming for Hulu, Netflix deal and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Here is the latest case, hospitalization and vaccine data from Fort Bend County. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nearly 30% of eligible Fort Bend County population fully vaccinated against COVID-19

From March 26-April 8, the county reported an average of 91.6 new coronavirus cases a day.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
DMV officials say no grace period following waiver of car title, registration; new housing set for Magnolia, Cypress

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

After serving up chicken in College Station for nearly three decades, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is opening its first location in the Houston area in Katy. (Courtesy Layne's Chicken Fingers)
Layne's Chicken Fingers coming to Katy; Gyro King opens in Sugar Land and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Less than 25% of American office workers have returned to in-person office settings since the start of the pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
DATA: Texas metros lead the nation in return to in-person work since start of pandemic

About 37% of Houston office employees had returned to in-person work as of the end of March, as compared to an average of less than 25% in other major U.S. metros.