Hidalgo, Ellis, public health officials plea to Commissioners of no-vote impact on public health
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS–(September 15, 2022)–Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Commissioner Rodney Ellis, County health authority Dr. Erika Brown, and Harris Health System COO Lewis Smith, spoke in-depth on the County’s current management and mitigation of COVID-19 at a news conference at The Health Museum. With the recent no-show, no-vote stunt carried out by GOP County Commissioners Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey, Harris County faces a stark, impending reality of an anemic, defunded public healthcare system.
While Harris County has decreased its case numbers, even shifting to a new COVID level system, the County faces an inevitable uptick with fall and flu seasons on the horizon. With a well-funded healthcare system, this seasonal event would pose little threat to the community. However, Harris County currently faces extreme budget constraints resulting from Cagle and Ramsey’s refusal to vote on the proposed County budget. The impact is unprecedented, with the County Hospital System facing a $45M budget deficit, as well as a potential loss of over $150M in grants.
These massive cuts to a system that provides critical care to the County’s vast uninsured populace, tracks the spread of infectious diseases, inspects water quality, and oversees other public health operations, poses detrimental effects to the collective health and safety of Harris County. Residents face long wait times, waitlists for dire health screenings, reduced staff availability, and a host of ensuing obstacles. These effects offer a glimpse into the dangerous nature of the GOP’s preoccupation with partisan politics over the people of Harris County.