Burnet County Judge James Oakley said he has no plans to issue a shelter-in-place order due to the COVID-19 pandemic but instead will follow Governor Greg Abbott’s lead.
“I want to respect what the governor does statewide,” Oakley said during the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting March 24.
The question came up as commissioners live streamed the meeting via Facebook so residents could keep up with county business without gathering in a large group due to concerns over spreading the novel coronavirus.
But Oakley added that the situation is fluid and things are changing very quickly.
The judge pointed out that Burnet County is in a different situation than urban counties, and he doesn’t anticipate he will issue a lockdown order. Travis and Williamson counties recently issued shelter-in-place orders.
While the county deals with COVID-19, officials are also working to ensure residents continue receiving needed services. Commissioners tackled regular tasks such as reviewing development plats and approving resolutions.
The live stream of the meeting was just one change in how the county now conducts its business in the midst of the outbreak. Many Burnet County departments and offices have closed to the public but continue to offer services online, over the phone, and by email.
County Clerk Janet Parker told the court she is setting up her staff to work from home.
“Sixty percent of what comes through my office is e-file,” she said. “That part of the world hasn’t shut down.”
The county clerk’s office handles a myriad of responsibilities, including issuing marriage licenses. Businesses such as developers and title companies rely on the county clerk for handling and filing documents.
Despite closing the office to the public, it’s still bustling.
Parker told the commissioners that, on March 23, four days after closing to the public, her staff filed 70 documents.
One service that still requires in-person attention is marriage licenses. Parker said those needing a marriage license can begin the process online or over the phone and then schedule an appointment for any in-person steps.
Other county offices are following similar procedures.
Burnet County Attorney Eddie Arredondo said his office will continue to take phone calls and work with individuals. He pointed out that if someone needs a protective order, his office will assist them.
Herb Darling, director of Burnet County Development Services, said his department is following suit but added staff will continue to do tasks to “try to keep as many people working in the construction industry as possible.”
“We’re going to keep our field inspections going,” he added. “We have a good plan in place.”
Burnet County residents or businesses needing county services can find phone numbers and emails on the county’s website.