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Central Texas counties echo Travis, issue stay-at-home orders

Thursday, March 26, 2020 by Nina Hernandez

While the city of Austin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the headlines, surrounding counties are also working to keep their communities safe.

Alongside the news of its first presumptive coronavirus case, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued a state of disaster in conjunction with the city of San Marcos on March 15.

Then, last week, the county and city issued a second order in line with the guidelines in Gov. Greg Abbott’s public health disaster declaration. The order bars public and private gatherings and shutters daycares until April 3.

On Tuesday, the District Courts of Hays County issued formal orders canceling district court proceedings, except for provisions put in place for all essential legal matters, civil and criminal, to be promptly heard.

On March 25, Becerra announced on Twitter that he “will be issuing a Shelter @ Home Order, as well as a curfew.”

He continued: “The number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, with a total of 10 cases now reported this morning. The order will be similar to those in Central TX. This is a necessary next step to stop the spread.”

Community members can visit for more local information.

Bastrop County Health Authority, the Bastrop County Judge and three local mayors issued their own statements on March 18 discouraging social gatherings with more than 50 people.

But by March 20, a full-on executive order was issued limiting gatherings to 10 people or less and banning visits to nursing homes and retirement or long-term care facilities through April 3.

“Instituting these restrictions is necessary in order to create social distancing and are meant to strengthen and safeguard our communities,” the order reads. “These coming weeks are critical in the fight against COVID-19. As Texans, we must act responsibly in order to slow the spread of this virus and protect ourselves and our neighbors.”

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell declared a local state of disaster on March 14.The preventive measures suggested included following good hygiene practices and getting a flu shot.

By March 24, the county issued its own stay-at-home order suspending all nonessential business and activities. This order continues through midnight on April 13.

“Our goal right now is not to exceed our hospital capacity and to avoid overwhelming our health care system by flattening the curve and reducing the spread of the coronavirus,” said Gravell. “Together, we will get through this. Stay home and stay safe.”

Photo by Larry D. Moore/CC BY-SA.

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