The coronavirus pandemic continues to afflict Texas and uproot seemingly all public life throughout the state, with public health officials confirming over 90 cases in the Lone Star State.
Despite not having any reported case in Walker County, area officials are taking preemptive measures to ensure the health and well-being of the general public. At least seven cases have been confirmed in Montgomery County, while Grimes County reported its first case Wednesday morning.
This prompted Walker County Judge to stiffen an occupancy order throughout Walker County.
The new order bans any event of 50 or more persons in a private facility or 10 or more persons in a government-owned facility. This would include any pre-planned event or wedding.
The order also urges restaurants, bars, theaters, retail stores and churches to comply with CDC guidelines and use all reasonable precautions to protect consumers and staff, including increasing space between individuals. Unlike restrictions in Harris and Montgomery Counties, restaurants are not being required to close their dining rooms.
The city of Huntsville followed suit, canceling all of its events with 10 or more people scheduled for the next eight weeks. Those include: Junk-A-Palooza garage sale, the Easter egg hunt and the herb festival at the Wynne Home and the Downtown Music Series. They also canceled all programs and classes at the aquatic center, Wynne Home and Huntsville Public Library and ceased all organized sports league activities.
“While facilities that are public in nature are still closed to the public, others remain open at this time including city hall, the service center and municipal court,” Huntsville city manager Aron Kulhavy said. “We continue to encourage all citizens to conduct as much business over the phone or online at HuntsvilleTX.gov when possible.”
Kulhavy added that city park facilities remain open to the public, but organized events or gatherings of 10 or more are prohibited.
“City staff will be cleaning and sanitizing the bathrooms daily and treating the playground equipment,” Kulhavy said.
City officials also added regulations on all bars and clubs within the city limits, capping occupancy at 50 people.
Future meetings of the city council, planning commission and other city boards that must meet will be done via teleconference. The city will be posting these meetings and the public will be invited to attend via teleconference, with a call-in number being provided with posted agendas.
Kulhavy added that everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing when possible and to wash their hands. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus, which is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person contact.
Nearly 2,000 people have been tested in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Health Services. That number is likely to increase as major metro areas step up their testing efforts.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.