HOUSTON — The city of Houston is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases which has the mayor making a desperate plea for residents to mask up and social distance when around others.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reported an additional 1,789 coronavirus cases in Houston, bringing the city's total to 14,322. Turner also announced five additional deaths, bringing the city's death toll due to coronavirus to 196.
The new cases reported include the case count from Sunday and a large data feed from the Texas Department of State Health Services that date back to June 9.
"We are moving very fast and we are moving very fast in the wrong direction," said Mayor Turner. "The course that we are currently on is not in the best interest of our city or state."
Mayor Turner said the numbers being reported within the last week are some of the highest numbers he has seen in Houston.
"All of the good work we did collectively in March, April and May -- closing down conferences and conventions -- we are now engaged in activities that are wiping the success we achieved," Turner said.
Mayor Turner said the new mask order that went into effect Monday is just one of the proactive options the city is taking to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Turner said city officials are also utilizing their voices and encouraging people to do the right thing by practicing good hygiene and social distance when at stores, restaurants or any other businesses.
"At the very minimum we are asking people to put on their masks or face coverings," Turner said.
Turner went on to say that the goal of the mask order is to save lives and he said it’s a sign of respect for other people as well.
Dr. David Persse, director of the Houston Health Department, said the number of hospitalizations due to coronavirus is increasing.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena said within the last week the fire department has seen an increase in 911 calls from patients who have COVID-19. He says this is impacting his firefighters because those exposed to coronavirus patients must quarantine for two weeks which means public safety is being jeopardized.
"When you take 100 firefighters and police off the streets due to quarantine if affects the city," Chief Pena said.
Gov. Greg Abbott acknowledged Monday there are some alarming coronavirus trends in Texas over the last week and the virus "must be corralled."
When comparing the numbers in late May to the last five days, they've at least doubled across the board.