Is that travel advisory to Harris County really needed?

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 19:14:14-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Last week’s big statewide jump in new coronavirus cases is causing concern. Nueces county reported 47 new cases between June 8-12, but other counties have also seen their numbers go up.

Last week, Jim Wells County issued a travel advisory for the Houston area as numbers there also climb. Is it time for the state to step in? Positive coronavirus tests are up across Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott says that’s because more people are being tested, but doctors look at other numbers.

“What you want to look at is the hospitalization rate, and that’s exactly what Houston is seeing,” said Dr. Erik Nisimblat, head of the Jim Wells Co. Medical Society. “They’re seeing an uptick in their hospitalizations.”

Between June 8-12, Harris County reported 729 cases, 150 in Houston alone, that jump led Harris County to unveil a COVID-19 alert system.

“They’re currently at a level orange, which means they’re at an uncontrolled spread,” said Nisimblat.

An Alice resident recently tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Houston.

“Houston is having difficulty right now with COVID-19, this is probably not a place that you want to go visit,” said Nisimblat.

Abbott, who’s plan for reopening the state recently hit phase three, warns people shouldn’t let their guard down.

“COVID-19 still exists in Texas,” said Abbott. “It has not left Texas, the U.S. or the world.”

Despite the increases, Abbott is resisting the idea of bringing back any statewide restrictions, leaving that decision in the hands of those who travel. He does recommend that if you plan to travel to use hand sanitizer, wear a face mask and social distance yourself from others.

“Because COVID-19 still exists you must be very careful as you go to these locations, otherwise, you're increasing the chances you will get it,” said Abbott.

Nisimblat believes that if people go back to the same level of precaution they took three months ago, the spread of COVID-19 can be minimized.

“It’s all going to be dependent on our behavior and our adherence to wearing a face mask, social distancing, and hand washing,” said Nisimblat.

Nisimblat says he’s concerned that cases are spiking now, with fall around the corner. Health care professionals have long warned of another wave when temperatures drop.