Following a decline in new coronavirus cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations, Fort Bend County Judge KP George lowered the county's coronavirus risk rating from red—or high community risk—to orange—or moderate-to-significant community risk.

"With all these indications, we, at this point, are going to be lowering our threat level from red to orange," George said in an Oct. 13 news conference. "That means we are still not out of COVID[-19], but as part of transparency and proper communication, I am letting you know this good news."

Despite lowering the threat level, George encouraged residents to get vaccinated, take the booster shot once they are eligible, and continue mitigation strategies such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

OakBend Medical Center CEO Joe Freudenberger said if another variant emerges, it could push the health care system past its breaking point.

"Our health care system across the county is on the edge of breaking down entirely because the workers that are manning the front lines to protect all of the patients we are seeing are tired," Freudenberger said during the news conference. "They're tired of the death. They're tired of the risks. They're tired of the hours."

Fort Bend County's coronavirus threat level had been red since Dec. 9. In the last 14 days, an average of 150 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Fort Bend County per day, and between 122 and 94 people have been treated by local hospitals for COVID-19, according to data from Fort Bend County Health & Human Services, and the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.

"If we really want to get back to normal, let's all join together and continue to do those things we've been doing that took us from red to orange, so that we can go from orange to yellow and eventually from yellow to green," said Rita Obey, Fort Bend County Health & Human Services communications manager, during the news conference."