As cases rise, governor expands local leaders’ authority over gatherings

As hospitalizations and positivity rates for COVID-19 continue to climb, state and local leaders are asking Texans to take the pandemic seriously as well as steps to slow the spread of the virus that causes the disease.

On June 24, Marble Falls Mayor John Packer issued a statement encouraging everyone to take steps to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, including wearing a face covering in public places. 

“We need to all work together to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control,” Packer said in a written statement. “If the numbers continue to increase at the current rate, the state, county, and cities may have to enact more strict orders, which will slow the recovery of our economy.”

As of June 24, Burnet County has recorded 105 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced June 23 that he was expanding the ability of county judges and mayors to impose restrictions on outdoor events of more than 100 people. He had previously set the lower limit for that at 500 people.

During an interview June 23 on KBTX-TV in Bryan, the governor urged people to stay home unless they need to go out.

Abbott also directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to place emergency rules on child care centers “that provide strict health and safety standards and procedures related to COVID-19.”

“These are just some of the steps Texas will take to contain the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” the governor said in a media release. “Today’s (June 23) proclamation and emergency rules will aid in that effort in two key ways: allowing restrictions on large gatherings where COVID-19 is easily spread and implementing a statewide standard of infection control for child care centers.”

During a June 22 media conference, Abbott said closing down Texas again would be the last option, but he would consider rolling back some of the phased reopening strategies if the current COVID-19 trajectory in the state continues upward. 

Mayor Packer reminded people to use the minimum standard health protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services to slow or curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Those include:

  • Stay home if you are sick or don’t feel well.
  • Practice safe social distancing. Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from other individuals not within the same household.
  • Wear a cloth face covering (over the nose and mouth) when entering a business or when within 6 feet of another person who is not a member of the individual’s household, especially in large gatherings.
  • Wash or disinfect hands upon entering a business and after any interaction with employees, customers, or items in the business.

City officials are also asking people who organize gatherings to promote safe social distancing and encourage people to wear face coverings. Business staff who come into contact with a number of people, such as restaurant employees, are also encouraged to wear face coverings. 

While local and state leaders can offer some direction to curbing COVID-19, Abbott said it will also take each Texan stepping up.

“However, as we face this challenge, there is no substitute for personal responsibility,” the governor said. “I urge all Texans to do everything in their power to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus by wearing a face mask, washing their hands, and staying six feet apart from others.”

daniel@thepicayune.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *