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Health experts worry about 'double' COVID-19 threat after Hurricane Laura fallout, Labor Day holiday

State officials reported spikes in COVID-19 cases after holiday weekends. With evacuations from Hurricane Laura, cities are still catching up on testing.

Southeast Texas leaders said they are worried about a double threat — fallout from Hurricane Laura and then the impact of a holiday weekend. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported spikes in COVID-19 cases after previous holiday weekends. Officials said they worry it will be the same issue this time around. 

With evacuations from Hurricane Laura and returning home, cities are already trying to catch up on coronavirus testing. 

"Having to evacuate was troublesome enough," Port Arthur mayor Thurman Bartie said. 

He said evacuating during a pandemic adds an extra layer of concern. 

"Even those who went independently on their own, they could've been in the areas where folks are infected, not knowledgeable to them." 

Now there is a backlog in COVID-19 test results as testing centers reopen after the storm. 

"We did have a break because of the storm when everyone evacuated," Port Arthur Public Health Director Judith Smith said. 

Health officials in Southeast Texas realize some of their residents were in shelters or staying with family they have not been around in a while, Smith said. With Labor Day weekend ahead, she sees another concern for an increase in cases. 

"People want to get out to be able to have the freedom to have fun, mix and mingle, but with this virus upon us, it's difficult," Bartie said. 

Because of spikes in coronavirus cases after previous holiday weekends, beaches across Texas had limited access on the Fourth of July. This time around, Galveston Island is open to all.

"The infection rates in Galveston County and in Galveston (are) doing extremely well,  and we feel very comfortable to invite anyone who wants to come down," Galveston Mayor Pro Tem Craig Brown said. 

Mayor Bartie said you can never play it too safe. 

"Please know your COVID status," he said. 

Earlier this week, Governor Abbott said in a tweet that COVID-19 numbers were declining and hinted at more reopenings. He is expected to make an announcement sometime next week. 

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