The rodeo is the latest in a growing number of large events across the United States that have been cancelled or postponed.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) March 11, 2020 – Emergency health declarations are expected to be announced Wednesday for the city of Houston and Harris County in light of the possible first non-travel related coronavirus case in the region.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made the announcement as word got out of the abrupt closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a large-scale, 18-day event attended by millions of people each year.
The top leaders in the fifth largest metropolitan area in the United States came to the decision based on a presumptive positive coronavirus case out of nearby Montgomery County.
According to officials, the Montgomery County case, who is a man in his 40s, attended the rodeo’s kickoff barbecue on Feb. 28. The attendance for that event was 73,433, the RodeoHouston website stated.
The Montgomery County resident with the presumptive positive case of COVID-19 had no out-of-state travel and no identified contact with another person with the illness.
In making the announcement, Turner said leaders were monitoring the various cases in the area over the last week, which were entirely travel-related. However, things changed, he added.
“Yesterday, with the case in Montgomery County, that was evidence of some community spread. And as a result, that takes us to, what do we do next,” Turner told the media Wednesday, adding he’ll sign the declaration by the end of the day.
Turner said the declaration lasts for seven days, and thereafter, the city council will vote on whether to continue the state of emergency. The emergency declaration not only impacts the rodeo. The Tour de Houston, a city-wide cycling event planned for March 15, is also being postponed.
Turner also added all city organized or co-sponsored town hall events in March are also being scratched.
Judge Hidalgo similarly announced her intention to institute a “disaster declaration” for Harris County.
“I directed and we directed all our departments to prioritize coronavirus preparedness, over and above anything that is not an essential function,” Hidalgo said.
Earlier Wednesday, the judge identified a weakness in the county’s handling of coronavirus testing.