As Thanksgiving and the winter holiday season approaches, Fort Bend County Judge KP George announced in a press conference Nov. 12 the county was lowering its COVID-19 risk level from orange to yellow as new cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.

The yellow threat level is considered low to moderate community risk. The county previously reduced the threat level from red to orange Oct. 13.

"Today I'm so happy ... to let you all know that the numbers are suggesting we are going in the right direction," George said.

In order to move from orange to yellow, Fort Bend County must have 14 days of flat or decreasing new COVID-19 cases, 14 days of flat or decreasing COVID-19 hospital and ICU populations, a 14-day average of fewer than 5% of the hospital population be COVID-19 patients and to have vaccine availability, according to county documents.

Dr. Jacquelyn Minter, director of Fort Bend County Health & Human Services and local health authority, said the county has had a daily new case average of less than 100 cases for the past two weeks.

Despite reducing the risk level, Minter asked the community to continue to be vigilant, practice personal hygiene and use face coverings when appropriate.

Additionally, George urged any unvaccinated residents to get a COVID-19 shot. More than 77% of the county's population age 12 and up is fully vaccinated, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting.

Furthermore, the county recently began vaccinating children ages 5-11 after both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children in this age range.

"Protect yourself; protect your family, and protect your neighbor. Stay safe, get vaccinated and wear a mask, so [everyone] can enjoy the holidays," George said. "After 21 months in the middle of COVID[-19], this is going to be a special holiday season."