Waxahachie Mayor David Hill declared a local state of disaster in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Monday.
The Disaster Declaration Order, in effect for 30 days, comes even as Emergency Management Coordinator Thomas Griffith told the City Council there were no confirmed cases of the novel virus in Ellis County as of Monday.
“We do not have any confirmed cases of the virus right now,” Griffith said in a presentation. “It’s probably coming so we’ve got to be ready for that. We gotta be ready to respond.”
With the measure, there will be no city events of 50 or more people, and previously scheduled large gatherings have been canceled or postponed. The city’s Senior Activity Center, Sports Complex and Civic Center are all closed until further notice.
The Waxahachie Independent School District and surrounding districts extended spring break for at least an additional week. School officials said the break could be extended even further. The Red Oak Independent School District said it was prepared to provide online learning as necessary.
“We encourage everybody to do their best to understand why we’re doing this,” City Attorney Robert Brown explained. “We’re doing it to protect everybody’s health, safety and welfare, and it’s a burden. We understand it’s a burden on everybody. It’s a shared burden that, if we don’t undertake it now, the shared burden that we’ll have to undertake later will be substantially worse.”
The order does not limit the number of people on private properties, including restaurants, stores and churches.
The message from the U.S. government and health experts, however, is to practice social distancing – seen as a vital step to prevent the spread of the novel virus.
“This is a national disaster so there are steps and proper procedures to follow and we need to make sure that we’re fitting into the system and doing everything that we need to do, and then some,” Griffith advised.
The emergency management coordinator added that the city is prepared.
“We are not in panic mode, we are in planning and implementation mode… Our plan is in place,” Griffith confirmed. “We have call screening at the dispatch center... Fire has developed protocols in coordination with AMR. The police department has protocols in place. Our local hospitals have isolation rooms and testing capabilities…”
“As the virus changes, as the spread changes, then we’ll adjust as we move along,” he added. “It’s an ever-evolving situation and we’re staying on top of it.”
As of Tuesday morning, at least 85 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Texas.
A Matagorda County man in his late 90s who died Sunday became the first novel coronavirus-related death in Texas.
Nationwide, there were about 4,661 confirmed cases and 85 reported deaths, as of Tuesday morning.
Worldwide, there were 189,669 confirmed cases and 7,513 deaths, as of Tuesday morning.