Harris County further extends disaster declaration through June 10

Previously set to expire May 20, the disaster declaration allows the county to adequately respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting. (Screenshot courtesy ABC 13)
Previously set to expire May 20, the disaster declaration allows the county to adequately respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting. (Screenshot courtesy ABC 13)

Previously set to expire May 20, the disaster declaration allows the county to adequately respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting. (Screenshot courtesy ABC 13)

Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to extend the county's disaster declaration through June 10 during its May 19 meeting.

Previously set to expire May 20, the disaster declaration allows the county to adequately respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during the meeting. The declaration was first issued March 11.

"What we're using it for right now, most importantly, is reimbursements from [the Federal Emergency Management Agency], being able to submit those more easily and also, quick purchasing, obviously, in terms of issuing orders, the governor has pretty much taken that authority, so right now it's a matter of being able to do the purchasing and the FEMA reimbursement," she said.

During the meeting, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said he felt Harris County was approaching the recovery phase of the pandemic as opposed the emergency phase. He requested the county auditor's office and county attorney's office return to the next Commissioners Court meeting with reports on what further pandemic-related purchases the county might need to make to evaluate what potential purchases could be put in jeopardy if the county moved from a state of emergency to a state of recovery.

"It seems like we've done a pretty good job in the county with regard to the curve and our percentages that are being impacted," Cagle said. "As you have said, everyone still needs to be careful and cautious and needs to be safe, but we still have a great deal of hospital bed availability; we have a great recovery rate, especially compared to the state and the rest of the nation; and our percentage of population [that has the coronavirus] is fairly low. ... We're now more in that recovery phase as opposed to the crisis phase."


However, Hidalgo said while she was in favor of the reports, she believes the county is still very much in an emergency state.

"We're not in recovery. We just had 118 new cases yesterday. ... We had a pseudo army of 296 contact tracers as of yesterday. ... We're meeting virtually because ... one of the council members came down positive at the city of Houston—the virus hasn't gone anywhere," Hidalgo said. "It's a very strange thing; we've fallen into a bit of a new normal; but that doesn't mean [we're in recovery]. We may well be in the eye of the hurricane. I hope we're not."

Hidalgo said she was concerned that by lifting the emergency state, residents would become less cautious about their personal health, which could lead to future outbreaks. She added most other major Texas counties are likewise continuing to extend their respective disaster declarations into the month of June.

"If you look at the curves from the Spanish flu, you see one little curve and then there's a much bigger one later because I guess folks thought they beat the first curve and they were done, and so that's what we really can't let happen," Hidalgo said. "There's no such thing as a halfway disaster [declaration]. We're still in this disaster, [and] if things come back I may need this authority."

Precincts 1 and 2 Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia agreed with Hidalgo that the county is still in an emergent state, and the motion to extend the disaster declaration passed unanimously.

The court will consider further extending the disaster declaration at its next regularly scheduled meeting June 9.
By Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

The rate of new cases being confirmed is still up compared to the end of April and early May. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Weekly total of new cases falls after two weeks of increases

The rate of new cases being confirmed is still up compared to the end of April and early May.

Following a May 6 executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott, swimming pools are now able to operate at 25% capacity. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Spring-Klein-area swimming pools respond to state's gradual reopening

Homeowners associations are deciding whether to open swimming pools under state-mandated restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

Edge Medical helps patients limit prescription medications at new Tomball clinic

“This is what we’re doing because we’re tired of what we’ve seen and we want to make it better for people,” Chief Operating Officer Robert Pinard said.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is set to resume Oct. 3 with safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival announces tentative modifications for 2020 season

In a May 28 statement, General Manager Joseph Bailey said new safety measures are in the works to comply with governmental recommendations, and an operating plan is expected to be reviewed with officials in June.

The Loaded Baked Potato ($8.95 ): Everything but the kitchen sink is added into this baked potato. (Courtesy 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering)
2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering adds permanent drive-thru to weather pandemic

Co-owner Chris Clarabut catered his brother-in-law’s wedding four years ago, not knowing it would be the start of 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ & Catering, he said.

The Spring ISD board of trustees unanimously approved a revised 2020-21 instructional calendar during a special meeting May 28, which features intersessional breaks and runs Aug. 17, 2020-June 25, 2021. (Screenshot via Zoom)
Spring ISD's revised 2020-21 instructional calendar includes intersessional breaks, runs Aug. 17-June 25

The Spring ISD board of trustees unanimously approved a revised 2020-21 instructional calendar during a special meeting May 28, which features intersessional breaks and runs Aug. 17, 2020-June 25, 2021.

The death total in Harris County now stands at 221. With 11,770 cases confirmed in the county, the death rate stands at 1.9%. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1 new death confirmed May 28, 8 deaths over past 7 days

By comparison, 23 deaths were confirmed between May 16-22, and 39 deaths were confirmed between May 9-15.

Klein Oak High School graduating senior Christopher Jones II received a variety of gift items from community member Rachael. (Courtesy Allanda Nichols)
Greater Houston-area graduating seniors celebrated through online community

Seniors of the graduating Class of 2020 are being celebrated with gifts and well-wishes through organized Facebook groups and "adopt-a-senior" programs created by Greater Houston-area community members.

Health Care Snapshot 2020: Harris County ranked among top 25 counties for length of life

In terms of county health in 2020, Harris County ranked among the top 25 on length of life.