In his Sept. 16 State of the County address, Fort Bend County Judge KP George offered a look at the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and discussed upcoming infrastructure projects.
He was joined virtually by Jonathan Pursch from the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce; Trisha Frederick from Houston-based civil engineering firm Castello, Inc; Dr. Carol Lewis, professor of transportation studies at Texas Southern University; Dr. Mark Hartman, pastor at Sugar Land Creek Baptist Church; John Zerwas, M.D., executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the University of Texas System; and Cynthia Colbert, Catholic Charities president and CEO.
George began his address by praising the resilient spirit of Fort Bend County residents.
“We have grown to be one of the nation’s fastest growing and most diverse, and of course, one of the best welcoming communities in the country,” he said. “Even though our restaurants are suffering and losing money, many of them are working overtime… to support people on the front line. We have put politics and differences aside and sought to see the best in people, we have reaffirmed our collective humanity and compassion.”
COVID-19 took center stage during the speech.
After taking a moment to remember the 174 residents who died from the virus, George thanked the medical community and acknowledged the sacrifices made by frontline workers, health care providers, law enforcement officials and nonprofit organizations
Back in March, after the first Texas coronavirus case was confirmed in Fort Bend County, community partners worked together to get testing operations off the ground.
“At that time, we knew we had to respond aggressively and we did so without any state or federal support initially,” said George. “We also ensured that our undeserved communities had access to testing by setting up six sites collaborating with local communities.”
At the time, PPE was in short supply. George highlighted the work done by Jay Neal of the University of Houston, Keri Schmidt of Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and representatives from Houston Community College and county libraries.
“Shortly after asking them to find a solution, each partnership worked with chemical companies to redirect their operations to produce thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer,” said George. “Our friends at HCC and county libraries became athletes producing 3D printed face shields.”
George said that Fort Bend County was blessed to have Texas Medical Center nearby. He reiterated the importance of testing, which not only saved lives but also yielded vital data for the surveillance of COVID-19. George urged constituents to not let their guard down and continue following coronavirus-containment guidelines.
The virtual address also featured a discussion on the upcoming Nov. 3 elections.
In August, the Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court unanimously approved a $218.2 million mobility bond proposal and a $38.4 million parks bond proposal for the Nov. 3 ballot.
“Fort Bend County has experienced phenomenal growth for the last few years,” said Frederick. “If the demographers are correct, our future holds a million residents by 2022.”
Lewis asserted the need for a commuter rail line running from Rosenberg into the Texas Medical Center, to accommodate the travel needs of the county’s growing population.
“There’s a dominant trip pattern from Fort Bend to the medical center,” said Lewis. “So that’s just kind of the thing that transportation wants think about.”
The speakers urged citizens to complete their household census by the Sept. 30 deadline.
“Our president will use the results of the 2020 census to deliver the new congressional representatives,” Geroge said. “Texas may gain four more seats if we receive an accurate count, which means four more votes for our Texas values in the U.S. House.”