state of disaster

State of disaster extended indefinitely for Houston and Harris County

State of disaster extended indefinitely for Houston and Harris County

Houston skyline
Houston is under a state of disaster declaration for 30 days.  Photo courtesy of Lexus, On the Road with Chris Shepherd

The City of Houston and Harris County have decided to indefinitely extend the emergency health declaration.

The announcement was made Tuesday, March 17, during a Houston City Council emergency meeting.

This comes nearly a week after Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made the announcement as word got out of the abrupt closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a large-scale, 18-day event attended by millions of people each year.

The top leaders in the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the United States came to the decision based on a presumptive positive coronavirus case out of nearby Montgomery County.

According to officials, the Montgomery County case, who is a man in his 40s, attended the rodeo's kickoff barbecue on Feb. 28. The attendance for that event was 73,433, the RodeoHouston website stated.

The Montgomery County resident with the presumptive positive case of COVID-19 had no out-of-state travel and no identified contact with another person with the illness.

In making the announcement, Turner said leaders were monitoring the various cases in the area over the last week, which were entirely travel-related. However, things changed, he added.

The emergency declaration not only impacted the rodeo. The Tour de Houston, a city-wide cycling event planned for March 15, is also being postponed.

Turner also added all city organized or co-sponsored town hall events in March are also being scratched.

Judge Hidalgo similarly announced a "disaster declaration" for Harris County.

"I directed and we directed all our departments to prioritize coronavirus preparedness, over and above anything that is not an essential function," Hidalgo said.

Harris County's declaration activates its emergency management plan.

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