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Masks may not be enough; some models 'looking apocalyptic,' Houston expert says

Infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez says if cases continue to accelerate, Houston could see a situation resembling hotspots like NYC or cities in Brazil.

HOUSTON — As a new week begins, infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez hopes the latest COVID-19 models for Harris County do not pan out.

"Some of the models coming out of the Policy Lab at the University of Pennsylvania are looking apocalyptic," said Hotez.

The trend of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Texas is not looking good. A daily record was set Saturday with 4,430 new cases.

Reminder: Harris County's mask order is now in effect:

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"We have to see where it goes and see whether the mask order will have an impact or whether that will be too little too late," said Hotez. "I don't think that's going to be adequate. I think we're going to have to take additional measures. The masks may be the easy part. We may have to reinstitute social distancing in some sectors."

Hotez said reopening too soon coupled with Memorial day, massive beach crowds, large scale protests and too many unwilling to wear masks erased all the success the Houston area had achieved keeping COVID cases down.

"If the numbers continue to accelerate we could be looking at a situation that resembles New York City or some cities in Brazil," said Hotez.

Right now, Harris County remains at an orange alert level. That means there's a significant level of COVID-19 in our community and folks should minimize contact with others if at all possible.

"We now have to have in place a Plan B," said Hotez. "If the numbers continue to rise no doubt probably part of that plan will be moving to a red alert system. I knew things would get bad if we opened too soon, but I didn't expect this level of acceleration, and I'm hoping it doesn't continue at the same pace in the coming weeks."

RELATED: Map: Keeping track of Houston-area coronavirus cases

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