HOUSTON: The highest “Red Level 1” alert was issued in Texas’ Harris County, where the US’ fourth largest city of Houston is located, due to an uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus. On Friday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued the red alert, the most serious level on the newly-launched coronavirus threat scale, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Today, we find ourselves careening toward a catastrophic and unsustainable situation,” she said in a news conference.
While Texas Governor Greg Abbott removed her ability to create an enforceable stay-home order, Hidalgo has asked people to follow guidelines including staying at home as possible as they can, avoiding all gatherings, cancelling all non-essential travel and visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
“If we don’t act now, we will be at the point of no return,” Hidalgo said. Earlier on Friday, Abbott issued an executive order limiting certain businesses and services to contain the spread of COVID-19.
According to the order, all bars and similar establishments that receive more than 51 per cent of their gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages were asked to close. Restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity of less than 50 per cent of indoor occupancy, beginning from June 29, said the order.
The order also banned outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people unless approved by local governments. Texas, one of the badly-hit US states, has so far reported a total of 138,000 COVID-19 cases, with 2,324 deaths.