Federal Efforts Slowing Down Texas County Response

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo says slow federal response impacting county coordination.

By Jill AmentMarch 13, 2020 12:55 pm, ,

The slow federal response to combating the spread of coronavirus is being felt in Texas’ most populous county: Harris.

Harris County, home to Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, is leading the state in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.

In an interview Friday with Texas Standard, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said controlling the spread is difficult because testing is very limited and the federal government has contributed to those testing challenges.

“We’ve not received the test kits that we need,” she said.

Hidalgo, Harris County’s chief executive, is working with officials in surrounding counties to develop a regional strategy.

So far, they’ve come up with several recommendations, including a suspension of gatherings of over 250 people, telecommuting to jobs when possible and that high-risk individuals, especially older adults, stay home.

Hidalgo is pushing for people to stay home to buy health officials time until more tests become available. She said social distancing is a “blunter instrument” but a necessary one for now. If the county doesn’t get the outbreak under control, a spike in cases could overwhelm local hospitals.

She praised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts so far. Hidalgo said Abbott assured county officials he’ll remove “any red tape” that gets in the way of processing potential COVID-19 cases.


Written by Caroline Covington.