KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
January 8, 2021
By Natalie Cook Clark
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Harris and Fort Bend counties. Local authorities seek more vaccines as the area passes the threshold outlined by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that will roll back many businesses.
COVID Cases Could Mean More Restrictions
In October, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued executive order GA-32 that outlined how businesses may operate amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Houston area surpassed the hospitalization threshold Abbott set. According to the order, since the area hospitals have exceeded 15% of total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days, rollbacks that will impact local businesses should go into effect.
"We are already overwhelmed and expect this to only worsen in coming weeks," says Katherine Doehring, a chaplain for Memorial Hermann. "As a chaplain, I am attending more end-of-life situations due to COVID on a daily basis than ever at this point."
What New Rollbacks Could Be
Such rollbacks should include restaurant capacity decreasing from 75% to 50% and the closing of bars, any business that serves less than 75% of food per alcohol.
“This is not an academic exercise, it is not a threshold that we should in any way celebrate reaching,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo earlier this week. “What we need to recognize is that without community action right now that's going to flatten the curve that's going to change the trajectory, we are going to find ourselves in a very difficult situation.”
"In my opinion, it is most important to keep essential business and societal needs open, like schools," says Doehring. "To sustain these needs, we have to get case numbers down."
Harris County currently reports having 253,612 positive COVID cases. Yesterday, the county reported the first known case in the state of the new COVID-19 variant that was previously found in the UK. While this variant of the virus isn’t known to be any more dangerous, it is known to be even more contagious raising great concern in the area.
Fort Bend County Requests More Vaccines
Yesterday, Fort Bend County reported having 1,362 more cases of COVID-19. Fort Bend County Judge KP George sent a formal request yesterday to Governor Abbott seeking more COVID-19 vaccinations.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will, once and for all, end the pandemic as we know it,” Judge George stated on Facebook. “I am asking Governor Abbott to send our local health department a larger supply ASAP.”
“We are ready to administer the vaccines to all that need and want them in all corners of our community,” says Judge George.
As of now, the full impact of cases contracted over the recent holidays has not yet been felt.
Katy ISD Keeps Staff Updated on Vaccines
Over the winter break, Katy ISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski emailed staff members about the implementation of Texas’ vaccine rollout for Phase 1A and 1B eligible individuals.
Recently Harris County Public Health has informed Region 4 school districts that they are now registering, and as the vaccine becomes available, providing immunizations to individuals who meet Phase 1B eligibility criteria. The county is requesting all Katy ISD employees, who believe they may be eligible for a Phase 1B COVID-19 immunization, to complete the Harris County Public Health (HCPH) Community COVID Vaccination Survey as the first step in the registration process. Responding to the survey will place eligible staff members in the queue to receive the vaccine as soon as it is available.
Phase 1B eligibility includes those who are 65 and older, or with at least one chronic medical condition that puts them at increased risk as defined by the state. Further information about the state’s Phase 1A and 1B vaccination roll out and eligibility criteria can be found on the Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 Vaccination Information webpage.
Gregorski also offered Katy ISD sites and services to local and state officials to support the dissemination of vaccines if needed.
As of today, Friday, January 7, 2021, Katy ISD reports on their COVID Dashboard that the District currently has 665 active COVID-19 cases. The District resumed classes after the holiday this past Tuesday.
"We can all work together to end this situation by wearing masks, washing hands, distancing, and getting vaccinated to the very best of our ability," says Doehring. "This will save both lives and the economy."