Judge Hidalgo Announces Harris County COVID-19 Threat Level System

As hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Harris County reach their highest level ever, today County Judge Lina Hidalgo unveiled a new public threat level system designed to help residents understand the threat level from COVID-19 and provide clear guidance on steps the general public must take to protect themselves, their community, and support the conditions to avoid a crisis and sustainably reopen the local economy. The system, informed by the latest data from local health authorities, research institutions, and public health experts, informs a color-coded level indicator for residents displaying the level of COVID-19 threat.

The system advises four levels: Level 1 severe (red), Level 2 significant (orange), Level 3 moderate (yellow), and Level 4 minimal (green). Along with the level of transmission are actions residents should follow:: Stay home, (red); minimize all contacts (orange); stay vigilant (yellow); and resume normal contacts (green). To help residents easily understand and navigate the current level of risk, the county has shared an indicator dial on readyharris.org, along with descriptions of the latest data-driven community guidelines. 

“We all want to get back to work, see our friends, hug our family, go out to eat, and resume our livelihoods without limitations, but we still have a long road ahead of us to end this epidemic,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “We owe it to our residents to make sure we’re providing clear, consistent, and data-based information to keep them as healthy and safe as possible. Our only way out of this crisis is for our community to work together to avoid further uncontrolled transmission of this virus so that we can be in a position to reopen our economy in a way that is sustainable over the long term.”

Regardless of current level indicated, all residents should continue the use of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the use of face coverings until there is a vaccine or a treatment for the virus. Additionally, residents exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days regardless of level indicated. Consistent with the latest threat data the current level of the advisory system is set to Level 2 (orange): minimize all contacts. Information and public guidance posture for each level is as follows:

Level 1: Stay Home

Level one signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, residents take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine.  

Level 2: Minimize ALL Contacts (Current Level)

Level two signifies a significant and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning that there is ongoing transmission of the virus and that testing and contact tracing capacity is likely sufficient to meet demand. At this level, residents should minimize contact with others, avoiding any medium or large gatherings and only visiting permissible businesses that follow public health guidance. 

Level 3: Stay Vigilant

Level three signifies a moderate, but controlled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning a demonstrated reduction in transmission and the local healthcare system is within capacity. Residents should remain vigilant, but resume contact with others and resume leaving home.  

Level 4: Resume Normal Activity

Level four signifies a minimal and controlled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning new chains of transmission are limited and quickly broken or a vaccine and/or treatment has been developed and widely deployed. At this level, residents may resume normal contact with others unless sick. 

For a complete list of indicators, guidance, and related information read Leading Harris County: Public Guidelines for a Healthy Community on ReadyHarris.org.

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