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Harris County Judge Prioritizes Human Lives with 'Stay Home Work Safe' Order


March 24, 2020

By Jennifer Miko

In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Harris County Judge Lina Hildago issued a “Stay Home Work Safe Order” for unincorporated Harris County, the city of Houston and other municipalities, at a press conference this morning. The order starts tonight at midnight and will be in effect until Friday, April 3.

Hildago said the most important factors supporting the “Stay Home Work Safe Order” are science and health. Thus, all Harris County residents should prohibit public gatherings.

“We are following a simple model," says Hildalgo. "By staying home we are saving lives, we are flattening the curve of the virus and making sure we’re not overwhelming our healthcare system and therefore our community.”

Hildago explained the order was not called a “shelter-in-place” because Houston officials associate that title with natural disasters and other local, isolated crises.

Hildago released this tweet prior to the press conference:

Effects on the Medical Community

Hildago explained that Houston-area hospitals and medical staff are seeing a large influx of patients requiring care for the coronavirus.

“If we keep going at the rate we’re going, we will end up in the situation that New York is heading towards and that Italy is at, where we simply run out of ICU space,” Hildago warned.

What’s Permitted Under the Order?

“We are taking steps to prioritize human life,” Hildago said.

Harris County residents should stay home, she added, unless their jobs are “essential for the health and safety of our community.”


The directive restricts businesses and activities that are deemed non-essential. Businesses must close during the period of the order, with the exception for employees able to work from home, or those employees who offer the following services: maintenance and security of the property, or information technology personnel providing services for employees to work remotely.

Hildago reminds everyone working onsite to maintain the six-feet-of-separation designation.

Medical Care

Residents may leave their home to get emergency supplies and services, or to visit a health care professional.

Essential Supplies

Grocery stores will remain open, most offering delivery and curbside pick-up to customers ordering on their website. Restaurants can also stay open, however for take-away or delivery services only.

Public Spaces

If residents want to venture outside, Hildago suggested walking or biking as long as social distancing was still enforced. She also warned residents not to visit parks, use public benches or playground equipment because the virus could remain on them for 48 hours.

Essential Operations

Hildalgo mentioned the 16 essential sectors to maintain the supply chain throughout the community and the country. The Department of Homeland Security posted this information on their website:

For more information on the “Stay Home Work Safe Order,” visit the Harris County website here.


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