With a population of approximately 2.3 million, Houston has reported a total of 131,035 cases and a total of 1,600 deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospitalizations in the city and Harris County are now at 2,100 and approaching last July’s peak number of 2,400, although fewer are requiring use of ICU beds.
“We know a lot of this is preventable if people would continue to wear their masks, avoid large crowds, and practice social distancing, wash their hands frequently, and get tested,” asserted the mayor.
Turner said the next two weeks would be critical as officials expect to see cases resulting from holiday activities to be reported, and he urged residents to be tested.
“It’s important now to get tested to know whether or not you have the virus and are carrying the virus, especially if you’re asymptomatic,” said Turner.
The mayor also noted that the city had administered 3,852 COVID-19 vaccinations last Saturday, exceeding a goal of 3,600, and that no other jurisdictions in the country had come close to delivering that many in one day.
Houston Health Director Steven Williams reported that the city has now received a total of 22,150 vaccine doses and has administered 14,297 of those. Williams said another 1,900 had been distributed to other providers in the area.
The state delivered 8,000 doses to Houston and Harris County each last Friday, but Turner said it was unclear as to whether that was an advance shipment for the coming week. Texas also sent an additional 11,000 vaccines to Houston Methodist Health System.
Pending delivery of additional vaccines, Williams said there were plans to open more sites.
“As supplies are received, our plans are to have north and south locations we can convert to mega locations on the weekend.”
Currently, state guidelines stipulate that under limited vaccine supplies, those eligible include individuals in the “1A” and “1B” categories: healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and persons over age 65 or those over 16 with at least one chronic medical condition.
Turner said he had received the vaccine seven days ago and felt fine.
Appointments to receive the vaccine through the city are completely full for the month of January and the city is not taking new appointments at this time.
Last week, Harris County Commissioners voted to work on crafting a means of tracking COVID-19 vaccines administered across the county and from all possible sources.
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Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.