COVID-19: Harris County Judge Hidalgo Supports "Masks For All" and Thanks Church Effort

Updated: Sep 15, 2021


Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County joins us to discuss the importance of wearing a mask in public and types of face coverings that can be worn, shares information on free drive-thru testing, and also gives thanks to congregations around Greater Houston for participating in Masks for All.

"Why it's important for the faith community to step up. You guys are always there. . .we can always count on our faith leaders to lead, to save lives and save souls. You guys are the first people that, folks turn to in the most difficult times. And this is about as hard as it gets for some people. So what you guys are doing besides being there for folks in the spiritual sense to help them with physical needs, something like masks is a huge deal."

Mentioned Resources:

Ready Harris County

Free Drive-Thru Testing Sites

Masks for All

DIY Mask

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resources


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Hello, this is Tommy Rosson with Houston Responds and today I'm very blessed to be joined by Judge Lina Hidalgo with Harris County. Judge, thank you so much for joining us.


Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Yeah, thank you for having me.


Tommy Rosson:

There's been a lot of conversations about masks and that they're really important, talk to us a little bit why they're so important and critical for reopening the economy.


Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Yeah. You know, all along we've been following the science on this. The experts, there are certain things we already know about the virus. There are many things we don't know. We don't have a cure, we don't have a vaccine yet. Folks are working on it, but we know that the virus spreads from person to person through close contact. We know that it's people sneezing, coughing, or just talking and a way to protect not so much yourself, but everybody around you, is to wear a mask. And so it's crucial if we want to even have a shot at being able to resume some portions of our normal life while this virus continues and while we don't have a vaccine, nor treatment. So on the one hand for health, you know, perhaps you are healthy and not concerned about having the virus. But it's about your grandma.


It's about the person at the grocery store who may live with somebody whose immune system is compromised. And so masks are really about our ability to live in the community. If we want to reopen the economy slowly in a way that can be sustained. Wearing masks is a big part of that because it'll be that physical barrier that will hopefully help keep the virus from spreading. When we get our contact tracers out there and we've been working day and night to get an army of contact tracers ready, trained to be deployed so that anybody with a positive test can go talk to these contact tracers, figure out which contacts they have and then we can contain there. It'll be different if they tell us, Hey, I sat near a person and I was wearing a mask. Well, we know that the chances of contagion are much lower and so I've got mine right here and you know, we need everybody to wear one.


Tommy Rosson:

Thank you so much for talking about that. You know, one of the aspects about wearing one and I know for churches, you know, the concern is also, especially as we begin to slowly figure out what it looks like to gather and how to do that safely. We have lots of vulnerable people in our midst and this disease, this virus will be apart for a while. And so, I assume that one of the critical elements, especially not as we go one week or two weeks or three into this, but months that we're going to continue to need those masks, especially for our vulnerable population.


Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Yeah. We're all going to be needing it. Of course, vulnerable populations are at particular risk, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are okay because of what I mentioned. You know, you can have it and not know it or you can have it and feel fine, but you can spread it to somebody else who then either is vulnerable or is in contact with somebody who is. And if we begin seeing the virus spread in, like wildfire too quickly in a way that we can't contain, that's when we're going to have to shut things back down. So this is a way to have the best chance at continuing with that slow reopening. Now wearing a mask is not a replacement to the six-foot distancing. You know, we want to still very much limit those close contacts because, and then there's a reason why we stopped those in the first place and why we were successful this first time around at containing the virus.


It was because those close contacts are the way it spreads. So, and I should correct myself, I've been saying masks, but it's face coverings. I know that some folks want to wear a proper mask. It's comfort. It's, you know, fashionable. Perhaps they just, you know, they like the way it looks. But I do want to point out, you know, if you guys have folks nervous about, you know, Hey, I don't have a mask or while I get my mask, what do I do? Folks can wear a bandana. They can wear a scarf. I've, you know, tied a t-shirt on my neck real quick just cause I forgot my mask. So it's, the idea is just to cover nose and mouth. It's not the end all be all. We still need folks to stay at a distance because you can still spread it but it makes a huge difference. And the fact that you guys are helping folks get those masks is just an incredible service.


Tommy Rosson:

Well, and talk to us a little bit about that. Another reason you want to do this interview was was to thank the churches but also talk about Masks for All. When we talk about a thousand churches across greater Houston doing this for the vulnerable population as well as for anyone at the under-resourced population that might not be able to afford a mask, you have temporary daily use masks are not going to get us very far. So we need some longterm solutions. Talk to us about why that's important for the church sector to come along and support this effort.


Judge Lina Hidalgo:

It is not something that I can do alone or you can do alone or that government can do alone. This virus is going to continue. It's going to grow or it's going to get smaller depending on the actions that each of us takes. In a way, we're used to hurricanes, right? And we know it's a category three or four or five in this case, and this is a conversation I have with the doctors. In this case, we decide what category of a storm it is based on our ability to contain the spread. And so to the extent that everybody in this community, whether they can afford a mask or not, that everybody in this community can wear a face-covering in one they feel comfortable and happy wearing that is going to help keep us all safe. And so, you know, whether we're looking at it from an equity lens or the selfish place of, look, if we have a vulnerable piece, all of us are vulnerable because we're all gonna need those hospital beds.


We need to make sure that everybody's up to speed. And so, you know, I do want to make sure that folks recognize, you know, we don't want to put a burden on anybody. We want to make sure that folks, you know, just cover your nose and mouth. But look, in terms, of why it's important for the faith community to step up. You guys are always there and whether it's a flood, you know, just recently during Imelda, a fire, now this pandemic, we can always count on our faith leaders to lead, to save lives and save souls. You guys are the first people that, folks turn to in the most difficult times. And this is about as hard as it gets for some people. So what you guys are doing besides being there for folks in the spiritual sense to help them with physical needs, something like masks is a huge deal.


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