Fort Bend County COVID-19 Community Risk Level: UPGRADED TO RED

On Tuesday, July 14th Fort Bend County updated the community risk level to red sharing the information via text, phone calls and emails to residents with the following message:

We may be tired of COVID-19, but it’s not tired of us. Each of us plays a vital role in continuing to stop the spread and keep each other healthy. Even as some businesses will be permitted reopen by the Governor, we urge residents to help us contain the spread by continuing to work and play virtually, use face coverings if you have to be out, and support contact tracing efforts.

Fort Bend County moved into the red category signifying High Community Risk for COVID19 Transmission, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening and that testing and contact tracing capacity is strained or exceeded. At this level, residents need to take action to minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs like going to the grocery store for food and medicine.

Fort Bend County Updated COVID-19 Health Guidance for the Public
During an outbreak, the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may vary from very high to relatively lower risk. The level of risk depends in part on the environment, type of activity performed, and the potential for close contact (within 6 feet of another person) for a repeated or extended period. To help Residents determine appropriate precautions, Fort Bend County has adopted four color levels to characterize the different risk exposure levels, consisting of high, moderate low and new normal.

  • Assume personal responsibility – Public health guidance cannot anticipate every unique situation. Residents should take responsibility, stay informed, take actions based on common sense, and follow the guidance offered by health care experts.
  • Do an honest self-assessment – In addition, all individuals are encouraged to perform an honest self- assessment before engaging in activities outside of the home. This assessment should include asking two questions:
    1.  Am I healthy enough to leave the home, or do I fall into a high-risk category, based on age or other medical conditions?
    2.  Is there someone in my home, or someone I interact with on a regular basis, who falls into a high-risk category?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then exercise extra caution and discretion before leaving the home. Is it a want or is it a need?

  • Perform protective hygiene, Distance yourself physically and clean the environment – Fort Bend County residents should practice good hygiene and cleaning practices to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. These include but are not limited to the following:
    > Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer after interactions with people or objects
    > Stay home if ill
    > Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue or do it into the sleeve or elbow, not hands
    > Clean high-touch surfaces (buttons, door handles, counters, etc.) regularly
    > Avoid touching your face
    > Refrain from hand shaking
    > Physically distance and keep recommended distance between people outside of your household
    > Wear a facial covering when out in public or when in the company of others.
  • Assess the Risk – Individuals should assess their risk and make decisions based on their specific circumstances. Those at high risk for COVID-19 (elderly, those with underlying illnesses, etc.) and those around them should use extra precautions as outlined by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and Fort Bend County Health and Human Services (FBCHHS). 

Fort Bend County guidance system for the risk of activities that may put the public at risk of acquiring COVID-19 is based on guidance from the state of Texas and the CDC. The system includes four levels of risk: RedOrangeYellow, and Green. Local infectious disease specialists and public health experts will use the latest information on local disease activity to advise county officials on the risk level that applies. Specific indicators for relaxation of activity level include:

  • A progressive decrease in daily COVID-19 hospital admissions in the county over more than 14 days.
  • A progressive decrease in daily COVID-19 ICU admissions in the county over more than 14 days
  • A decreasing trend in the daily number of COVID-19 deaths over more than 14 days

Red is the level of guidance Fort Bend County functions under Stay at Home orders. It translates to STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, only travel for essential needs, and restrict activities and gatherings, enhances protections for high-risk individuals such as the elderly, limits food service, and suggests no personal care services. Each level of guidance after red becomes less restrictive and corresponds to improvement in the COVID-19 epidemic indicated by having fewer hospital, ICU admissions and deaths. After 14 days of improvement in these indicators, the risk will be downgraded from red to orange. Then if the metrics are met for another 14 day period the level can be safely downgraded from orange to yellow, etc. The goal of this system is to protect you and those around you from COVID-19 infection. Green is the lowest level and represents the new normal needed to protect the community from a return of COVID-19 and appearance of future pandemics.

Follow guidance – Public health and economic opportunity are linked. Residents are urged to strictly follow the protective measures of each color to maintain their own health and avoid a resurgence of the epidemic that would cause greater economic harm.

Refinements to this guidance will be made by the Fort Bend County Judge with input from the Economy Recovery Committee.