Judge Lina Hidalgo has lowered Harris County’s Covid-19 threat level from Red (the most extreme) to Orange (Significant). Against public pressure Hidalgo kept the county, where Houston is located, at the “severe” level long past what many critics have said was realistic. “Keeping it so high just made people to stop paying attention to it, less and less people paid attention and instead ignored it. Her decision to keep the threat level so high actually gave people covid fatigue,” says Amy Diaz, small business owner in Houston. Despite keeping the threat level at Red, Harris County residents largely ignored it as evidenced in the number of people in stores, traffic and daily life returning to normal.
At Orange, the county guidelines say the threat is significant and that unvaccinated people should minimize all contact to others, avoid medium and large gatherings and continue to wear masks and social distance. This threat level guidance goes almost directly against some new CDC guidelines and Texas guidelines causing some confusion among residents of America’s fourth largest city.
Harris County was one of the first areas to start large mass vaccinations, with Harris County setting up a massive drive thru vaccine complex at NRG park. Hidalgo was key in getting the vaccination operation working on such a large scale according to local officials.
“I’m really concerned about Covid, I’ve always wore my mask, but I never really stopped going out, I mean I have to live still. There isn’t any magical coffer of money, and county leaders and medical people keep giving advice that’s just not workable for many average people,” says Shelly Duval of Cypress.
“She’s a scare-monger says Adam Bennet who lives in River Oaks. She loves to raise the alarm so high for so long that we all just stopped listening.”
“I think it’s good that she has kept the threat level at Red, Covid is still a serious problem, maybe not so much in Texas, or at least not as bad as other areas, but it’s still there, people just stopped thinking about it,” says Jenny Richardson of Spring.