FIGHTING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: County issues “Stay Home Work Safe” order

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner make a joint announcement about the “STAY HOME WORK SAFE” order last Tuesday morning.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner make a joint announcement about the “STAY HOME WORK SAFE” order last Tuesday morning.

Effective thru April 3rd; Virus cases reach 464

HARRIS COUNTY – Faced with the reality of mounting cases of the infectious and potentially lethal Coronavirus known as COVID-19, local leaders have issued an order to “Stay Home Work Safe” which amounts to a shelter in place directive.

At a joint news conference last Tuesday morning, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called for all but essential members of the public to stay at home, not to travel and not to congregate in groups. Businesses were advised to have their employees work at home. The order is set to last ten days, until Friday April 3rd.

As of last Friday, there were 464 virus cases in the greater Houston area that had tested positive. These include Houston 69 with 1 death, Harris County 135 including 1 death, Brazoria County 39, Brazos County 31, Fort Bend County 86, Galveston County 40, Matagorda County 9 including 1 death, Montgomery County 41, Chambers County 2, Liberty County 2, Grimes County 2, Wharton County 3, and Walker County 2.

Statewide in Texas there are 1,731 cases with 23 deaths. Nationally in the U.S. there are 100,390 cases and 1,543 deaths. Worldwide the cases number 587,958 with 26,909 deaths

The Order allowed the public to travel for necessities such as food and fuel, and allowed workers in 16 essential categories to continue to work. These include: Healthcare, Law Enforcement and Public Safety, Food and Agriculture, Electricity or Utility workers, Petroleum, Natural and Propane gas workers, Water and Wastewater workers, Transportation and logistics, including auto repair and postal service, Public Works, Communications and Media including newspapers, Government and Education, Critical manufacturing, Hazardous materials, Financial services including banks, Chemical workers, and Defense industries.

Across Texas a number of cities and counties have issued stay-at-home orders. These include Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, and Houston. Many states have also issued such an order, such as California and Ohio, but Texas Governor Abbott has said he will not follow, because most of the counties in this large and often rural state have not reported any cases of the virus.

However, Governor Abbott did issue several executive orders on March 19, which included the following regulations:

– Every person in Texas is to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

– No dining in at restaurants, bars, or food courts. Take out, drive-thru and delivery options will be allowed.

– Gyms are to remain closed.

– Schools are to remain closed, but online or alternative learning options may be used.

– No visitations at nursing homes, retirement centers, or long-term care facilities unless it is to provide critical care assistance.

THIS IS NOT A SHELTER IN PLACE ORDER. You can still go to grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, parks, and banks. Essential government services and critical infrastructure still operational, and domestic travel allowed.

These orders got into effect on March 20, 2020 and will end at midnight on April 3rd.

The pandemic has spread quickly through the United States, and the rest of the world. Worldwide figures indicate that more than 380,000 have been infected and tested positive, and more than 16,000 have died. Counties with the most cases include China, Italy, United States, Spain, Germany, Iran, France and South Korea. Italy has the most deaths, over 6000.

Texas has reported statewide over 355 cases, with 6 deaths.


In reaction to Judge Lina Hidalgo’s decision to issue a county-wide stay at home order in Harris County, Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia released the following statement:

“Today, Judge Hidalgo is making a true leadership decision. It is a very tough, yet extremely prudent choice, but her compass is to find the best possible path that could wind up saving lives of many Harris County residents. The reason for Judge Hidalgo’s decision is not solely of her choosing, however, and a stay-at-home order in Harris County comes after careful deliberation and counsel from many health care and business leaders. With what we’ve seen in other parts of the country, I agree we can’t afford to delay, and for my Precinct 2 family, I welcome her decision. This is the best hope for Harris County to prevent a widespread disaster, harming all of us that live, work, and play in this county. I strongly support the order from the Judge. Too many of our neighbors’ lives are at stake.”