Yesterday I wrote a post about Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s decision to hold off on issuing an order to shelter in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Working with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, she was taking a wait and see approach. And, just like that, local news sources began reporting Monday night that a “stay at home” order will be issued Tuesday morning.
The situation is fluid, as the expression goes. The order will take effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and extend through April 3. The unincorporated areas of Harris County, as well as the city of Houston and other municipalities, will have to restrict business activity to that of only “essential” business. The list of exemptions includes grocery stores, pharmacies, and other stores considered necessary for everyday life. Churches must go to online services only. Parks will remain open but not high traffic playgrounds. April 3, by the way, is the date established by Governor Abbott that preventative measures extend to at the statewide level.
Why the change of mind? Well, it seems that left on their own, Houstonians and Harris County residents are not staying home as they’ve been asked to do. Let me say upfront that I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in the leadership abilities of Harris County Judge Hildalgo. She was elected in the 2018 election when Democrats swept Harris County. She defeated incumbent Ed Emmett, who led Harris County through major events including Hurricane Harvey. She is 29 years old, a native of Colombia, and a far-left progressive. This is her first elected office. I will remind you that Harris County is the most populous county in Texas and the third-most populous county in the United States. Hildalgo is woke, y’all, and she reminds us of that on the regular. For example, shelter in place isn’t “the right term” so she tweaked it to stay at home. It’s all about feelings with that language.
Hidalgo said Monday if the county issues such a directive, calling it a shelter-in-place order is “not the right term” because it “evokes hurricanes, chemical incidents, makes you think of an active shooter drill.”
The medical community is asking for stronger measures to be taken in order to quell the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“The facts are clear,” William McKeon, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, told the Chronicle. “Earlier and more aggressive restriction of public movement is much more effective at reducing community spread of COVID-19 than later and less aggressive restrictions. We must come together by standing apart.”
In a highly unusual move, chief executive officers of the Texas Medical Center on Monday unanimously and strongly called on civic leaders to invoke such an order to further reduce community spread of the new coronavirus, which has now infected nearly 800 people in Texas and caused nine deaths. The leaders came to the consensus during their daily teleconference on COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Other counties are making the same decision – Bexar County (the Hill Country), and Travis County (Austin) both plan to issue similar orders. Galveston County issued the same announcement Monday night that Hildalgo will make today – a countywide order that begins at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday and will remain in effect until April 3. As of Monday, the Houston area was the most populous in the country without shelter in place orders.
On March 11, Hildago issued a disaster declaration that gives her the power to issue a shelter-in-place order or establish a curfew. Until then, the strongest measures that have been taken are the order to close down clubs, gyms, bars, and restaurants to dine-in service. Schools are closed for an extended amount of time.
The State of Texas is not under a statewide lockdown. Starting today, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana are the latest states to go under stay at home orders. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick finds himself in the midst of a kerfuffle after his appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show Monday night on FNC. He is growing impatient with the economic shutdown and is lobbying for getting back to business as usual as quickly as possible. The leftists are only too happy to portray his remarks as a willingness to sacrifice senior citizens for the benefit of the economy.
“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival, in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?”‘ Patrick remarked. “And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”
In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Patrick claimed other grandparents like him would be willing to make the same sacrifice. I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me,” Patrick continued.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) March 24, 2020
As of Monday night, the number of total cases in the Harris County/Houston area totals 199. Two deaths have been recorded and 18 people have fully recovered. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee reports that 744 free tests have been administered as of Monday night – of those, 40 people tested positive, which is just over 5%. There were 33 new cases recorded Monday. Three children under the age of 10 have tested positive – two in Houston, one in Galveston. Galveston was the first area county to issue a more stringent stay at home order. The first case was reported on March 5.
That’s how it stands in America’s fourth-largest city today.