Mayor's Office Press Release

Mayor Turner’s Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) for Saturday, March 7

March 7, 2020 -- Please attribute the following statement to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

“I know Houstonans are concerned about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), especially with the recent positive cases identified in our area. It’s important to note that all cases in our area thus far are linked by international travel and there is no evidence of community spread. For the general public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 remains low.

“While I understand the concern expressed by some, based on the current situation, public health experts indicate there is no need for the general public to avoid large gatherings in Houston. This is true of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has taken extra measures to help ensure the health and well-being of its attendees. The Rodeo has expanded the number of hand sanitizing stations, increased the frequency of sanitizing common touchpoints, added signage encouraging proper handwashing, boosted the frequency of cleaning and restocking of soap and paper towels in restrooms, increased the number of cleaning staff, and directed staff and volunteers with symptoms of illness to stay home. I applaud the Rodeo for taking these extra precautionary measures and encourage other local venues to take similar action.

“I know news of the cancellation of SXSW likely heightened the level of concern among some Houstonians. However, there are significant differences between the two events. SXSW attracts people from more than 100 countries, which raises the risk of COVID-19 transmission based on community spread occurring internationally. The Rodeo is primarily a regional event with attendees from the Houston area, where there is currently no community spread of COVID-19.

“However, people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems should routinely consider the risk associated with attending large gatherings and make a decision on whether they should attend. Out of an abundance of caution, I encourage people who recently traveled internationally to self-quarantine for 14 days. Also, if you have traveled or plan to travel internationally, I advise you wait two weeks before visiting nursing homes or senior living facilities, as an added precaution. And, people who are sick need to always stay home to prevent infecting others.

“All of us must continue to practice routine healthy hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, such as washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if sick.

“If the situation changes, community-based interventions such as event cancellations and social distancing may be needed. I will support the decisions of local public health officials, in conjunction with state and federal officials, based on the scope and severity of the situation. “We will continue to promptly update the public with developments, and I encourage Houstonians to visit for the latest information.”