As the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. continues to climb, Waxahachie Mayor David Hill assured residents during a council meeting, Monday, the city is “on the watch.”
“I don’t think there’s anybody in this room that doesn’t know that there is a virus,” Hill said before wrapping up the regular meeting.
Pointing to police and fire chiefs Wade Goolsby and Ricky Boyd, Hill said he and the servicemen met with officials at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center - Waxahachie. The mayor said they also met with the local school district, including the superintendent and school board.
Hill added that the city is in talks with the Department of Homeland Security.
“We do a weekly conference call and they update us on what’s going on and what we need to be doing statewide, as well as locally, so, we’re doing our part in the city to make sure those things are covered,” Hill explained. “We’re aware of it, acutely aware of it, to where we even walk around washing other people’s hands just to be safe. We’re not hidden from that and we know it is a threat, so, people can rest assured knowing that we are on the watch.”
The mayor’s address came after earlier public comments from a resident, urging the council to take action before the novel virus hits the city.
“It’s time to get ready. Coronavirus may be coming to a municipality near you, maybe coming to this one,” warned Paul Christenson, a frequent speaker during council meetings. “It’s time to take out your disaster plan, dust it off and start getting ready on this…”
The Waxahachie Independent School District, with a student population of over 9,500 and 1,400 employees, told the Daily Light it was keeping a close eye on the respiratory illness.
"We work closely with the health department to keep track of potential concerns," District Spokesperson Jenny Bridges explained. "We encourage all students and staff members to wash their hands regularly and to stay home if they exhibit symptoms of any contagious illness."
In a statement, Baylor Scott and White Medical Center – Waxahachie stated it was ready to take necessary actions, as prescribed by the CDC.
"The safety of our patients and staff remains a priority," the statement read. "We continue to work closely with local and state health departments to conduct screenings in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and recommendations for high consequence infectious diseases."
There are no known cases in Ellis County, as of Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, the mayor declared a public health emergency, Monday, after the federal government released a woman from quarantine who then tested positive for the deadly virus. The woman was among 91 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China and placed in a federal, 14-day quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. passed 140, including 11 deaths, as of Wednesday.
Health officials believe the virus, spread mainly from person-to-person, was first transmitted from animals to humans at a live animal market in Wuhan. Reported illnesses range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.