Published Nov 13, 2020 by A.J. Mistretta
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo expressed concern about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region and discussed a number of measures the county has implemented to combat the virus’ impact on residents in her 2020 State of the County presentation.
Judge Hidalgo participated in a fireside chat on November 12 with Scott McClelland, President of H-E-B Food and Drug and the Greater Houston Partnership’s 2019 Board Chair. The Partnership hosted the Judge for her second State of the County event, which was held virtually.
“The impacts on our community from the coronavirus are enormous and they’re nowhere near over,” said Judge Hidalgo, citing a rising number of daily new cases as well as increased positivity rates and hospitalizations in the county.
The Judge called on state officials to institute a more stringent threshold-based system for triggering shutdowns if the situation does not improve. She said the economic impact of allowing the virus to spread unchecked would be far more damaging than temporary shutdowns.
“When folks know that it’s safer out there, they’ll have the confidence to go out and engage in the activity that will help our economy to rebound.”
In recent months, the county has launched a $40 million recovery fund for struggling small businesses and a separate $40 million fund to provide rental assistance to tenants affected by the economic downturn.
Judge Hidalgo also discussed Harris County’s work to help close the digital divide, particularly for students who need devices and connectivity for remote learning. In the spring, the county invested about $30 million to ensure every child who needed a device could get one.
The Judge also touched on the county’s bail reform efforts and the positive data that has come out of that reform. Switching to infrastructure, Judge Hidalgo emphasized the importance of widening and deepening the Houston Ship Channel, which will enable the Port of Houston to host ever-larger vessels and effectively compete with other ports along the Gulf Coast.
Watch the full State of the County presentation via the link on this page.