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Houston At ‘Severe’ Threat Level: Unvaccinated Being Told To Stay Home—But City Can’t Enforce An Order

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 5, 2021

Topline

Houston officials are planning to move the city into its highest Covid threat level possible on Thursday and warn unvaccinated residents to stay home, according to multiple reports, though the advisory won’t be enforceable under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s anti-restriction orders.

Key Facts

Harris County, which includes Houston, is set to move its threat level from “significant” to “severe” on Thursday, urging residents to “stay home” unless vaccinated.

Covid spread is rampant across the Houston area as a result of the delta variant, which is already pushing hospitals to capacity due to a spike in cases among the unvaccinated.

At Houston’s Texas Medical Center—the largest medical facility in the world—regular ICU space has run out, leading to surge capacity being used to take in more patients.

Abbott has signed orders prohibiting vaccine passports and mask mandates, and has threatened localities that enact mandates with a $1,000 penalty.

Contra

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) has already defied Abbott’s order, albeit in a limited capacity. On Monday, he announced that city employees will be required to wear masks when they aren’t able to socially distance.

What To Watch For

Houston’s hospitalizations have increased for 20 straight days and are on pace to set a new pandemic record in about a week’s time, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Big Number

45.3%. That’s the percentage of Harris County residents that have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19—a level that is lower than most other large urban areas in the United States.

Key Background

Texas and Florida are accounting for about one in every three new Covid cases in the U.S., according to the White House, but neither Abbott nor Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have shown any signs of relenting when it comes to their stances against restrictions. For Abbott, this is a major shift from his position last year. In July of 2020, Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate in response to rapidly increasing hospitalizations in Texas. When he issued his mandate on July 2, 2020, there were 7,652 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. As of the state’s last update, there are now 7,685 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Texas.

Tangent

A statewide mask mandate in Louisiana was reimposed on Wednesday, making Louisiana the first state to issue a new, statewide mandate in response to the delta surge.

Further Reading

Hidalgo to move Harris County back to highest COVID threat level, urging unvaccinated to stay home (Houston Chronicle)

Florida’s DeSantis Signing Order To Block Mask Mandates In Schools (Forbes)

Texas Mandates Mask Wearing (Forbes)

Texas And Florida Cities Mandate Masks, Despite Statewide Bans (Forbes)

Louisiana Is The First State To Reissue A Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate Amid Covid Surge — Here’s Where Other States Stand (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

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