Lockhart extends state of disaster declaration
By Wesley Gardner
The Lockhart City Council voted unanimously to extend Mayor Lew White’s Local State of Disaster declaration through at least April 7 at a specially called meeting Tuesday night.
The declaration, in line with an order issued from Gov. Greg Abbott last week, orders the closing of schools, restaurants, gyms and bars and restricting gatherings of more than 10 people.
The limitation on the size of gatherings extends to commercial establishments, including retail, wholesale, industrial, service, eating and entertainment, though employees of these establishments are not counted as part of the gathering.
These restrictions do not extend to grocery stores, though many throughout the state have begun to limit the number of customers allowed in at one time at their own discretion. HEB in Lockhart is currently only allowing 75 people in at a time.
Several local and county officials were on hand Tuesday to provide updates concerning the city and county’s response to the outbreak.
According to Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Hector Rangel, there are currently 715 confirmed cases in Texas. Caldwell County still hasn’t seen a confirmed case, he said, but neighboring Hays County has confirmed nine and Travis County has confirmed 62.
James Jewell, director of Caldwell County-Lockhart Emergency Medical Services (EMS), said residents should not be alarmed if they see EMS officials wearing masks and gowns.
“I would like to make the public aware that if they should see us coming out in gowns or masks, it’s because we’re using the utmost care on treating,” said Jewell. “If you should have a fever, cough, have travelled outside the united states, we’re going to come in gowns masks.
“I think we really need to make the public aware that if they see something different in our protocol not to panic. We’re taking care of them and ourselves.”
Charles Laurence, the city and county’s chief health official, said most doctor’s offices in the community are screening people before they come to the office with phone calls and questionnaires to determine what actions patients should take next.
“We’re even doing virtual medicine now, using facetime or skype to have teleconferences with people,” Laurence added.
According to Laurence, testing kids for the coronavirus are still largely unavailable in the county.
“We do not have a lot of tests and that’s a universal limitation of all the physicians in the community and really everywhere,” said Laurence. “Austin and bigger cities have drive-through testing, but even that is not universal.
“Those people are screened and if they don’t meet the criteria, they’re not tested. Contrary to popular belief, if you think you can get a test whenever, you might not be able to.”
Laurence added that while larger cities like Austin and San Antonio have issued shelter-in orders, it remains to be seen whether similar measures would need to be enacted in Caldwell County.
“Whether that applies to us remains to be seen,” said Laurence. “It depends on whether or not we have testing and whether or not we start seeing cases locally, but as of yet we’re not seeing that.
“That could be, in part, because of lack of testing, but we’re not seeing patients that meet that criteria.”
Earlier Tuesday, Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden said he was working the mayors of each municipality in the county to ensure that if shelter-in measures were enforced, everyone would be on the same page.
“We want to make sure we’re all in agreeance on what that means,” said Haden. “Who can go to work?
“Who can’t go to work? What’s going to be open? What’s not going to be open. There is a lot to consider before we do that sort of order and I’m not prepared to do that at this time.”