Houston Coronavirus Updates: Positivity Charge Hits 5%, Locations of Worship Obtain Directions for Reopening

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced new coronavirus prevention guidelines for places of worship along with local religious leaders. (Courtesy of HTV)

Houston met Mayor Sylvester Turner’s long-standing goal of achieving a 5% positive coronavirus test positivity rate for the second full week of October, Health Department officials reported.

However, Turner said residents need to remain vigilant to keep the rate at or below 5% and best contain the spread.

The health department reported 138 new cases and three newly reported deaths on October 15, bringing the total death toll in Houston to 1,273.

Places of worship receive guidelines for reopening

Members of the Houston Health Equity Task Force, established in April, developed a set of guidelines for the Houston places of worship.

The guidance document, authored by faith leaders and approved by the Houston Health Department, states that it requires pre-registration and a 25% capacity limit on personal services, measures gathering temperatures, and requires masks.

“If death is in your family, the 5% [positivity rate] looks like 500%, ”said Pastor Max Miller, a member of the Missionary Baptist Church Task Force in Mount Hebron. “We ask, plead, encourage, and challenge faith groups to take these guidelines seriously.”

When asked about the safety of large communities like Lakewood Church, Houston Emergency Director Dr. David Persse that adhering to capacity guidelines, the spacing between participants, and the requirement to use masks should all ensure the safety of community members.

“Similar to a sporting event, a family unit can sit together, but it must be 6 feet from the nearest family,” said Persse.

Turner said Pastor Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, which can accommodate approximately 4,000 people at 25% capacity, plans to follow task force guidelines and continue to provide online services.

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