Mayor Urges Houstonians to Limit Holiday Gatherings to Household

Houston: Mayor Sylvester Turner and Dr. David Persse, the city’s leading health expert, talked Monday about how Houstonians should proceed with celebrations this holiday season during the coronavirus pandemic.

Turner said the percentage of people receiving positive results from their COVID-19 tests, known as the positivity rate, was at 7.9%, up from a low of 5% five weeks earlier.

“We are moving in the wrong direction,” Turner said.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and most health experts are concerned crowded gatherings and celebrations will trigger another surge of coronavirus cases. Recently, Texas became the first state to reach more than 1 million cases.

“Don’t invite COVID for Thanksgiving dinner,” Turner said during Monday’s news conference.

Turner said large gatherings with people who don’t live in the same house could lead to another spike in cases.

“As we approach the holiday season … Thanksgiving is upon us. … These traditional gatherings … are not the way to proceed,” he said. “This virus thrives on gatherings and will take advantage of holiday festivities to sicken our loved ones and further spread through our community.”

Persse said around 40% of people infected with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms and often spread the virus unknowingly.

“The person you’re most likely to infect is a member of your own family,” Persse said.

Both Persse and Turner said the city has plenty of free test sites offering quick results.

“The more people who get tested, and the more frequently that we as individuals go to get tested, the more empowered we are as individuals to not only protect ourselves but also to protect our family workers and our co-workers and our neighbors,” Persse said.

Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System remains at a level 1 red, which means residents are strongly advised to limit outings and contact with others as much as possible. It’s also an indication that overall coronavirus breakouts are a concern for local health officials.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Tuesday encouraged everyone in the county to get tested for coronavirus, pointing to alarming COVID-19 trends.

Hidalgo also encouraged Harris County residents to cancel gatherings — both large and small — unless you are with your household. She is asking residents get tested for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms, and sent out an emergency alert to residents Tuesday evening.