County Declares State of Disaster
Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar signed a Declaration of Local State of Disaster last week due to the novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19) which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Currently there no known cases of COVID-19 in Jackson County, however the City of Yoakum, and Lavaca and Dewitt Counties have confirmed coronavirus in the immediate area.
“We still do not have a confirmed case in Jackson County, but we have to prepare ourselves for having one,” said County Judge Jill Sklar. I filed a disaster declaration in order for us to get the resources we need to respond to our needs. I have been on the phone with key officials in Texas including the Governor.”
When in a time of disaster, there is a process for local jurisdictions to receive resources from the larger governing body. For example, offered Judge Sklar, if an institution such as a hospital district runs out of supplies or has some other need, the district would turn to the county for assistance. Similarly, if the county needs resources, it can turn to the state.
“Filing the declaration is a process that opens the door for the county to obtain resources should the need arise,” said Judge Sklar.
On March 13, 2020, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation certifying that Covid-19 poses an imminent threat of disaster in the state and declaring a state of disaster for all counties in the state.
According to Judge Sklar, state officials have stated it is imperative that the county follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As outlined by the CDC recommendations, the Local State of Disaster declaration limits the size of gatherings to not more than 10 people and mandates the cancellation of all such gatherings of more than 10 people until further notice, unless six feet of social distancing between persons can be adequately maintained.
Per the CDC definition, a ‘gathering’ refers generally to a scheduled event or common endeavor where 10 persons are present in a confined space, room or area. However, the limitation does not apply to those gatherings that are considered to be essential and necessary in conducting county business.
The declaration also authorizes the county to take any actions necessary to promote health and suppress the virus, including the quarantine of persons and occupied structures, examining and regulating hospitals, regulating ingress and egress from the county, regulating ingress and egress to occupied structures, establishment of quarantine stations, emergency hospitals, and other hospitals, and insuring compliance for those who do not comply with the county’s rules and directives.
The judge’s declaration is valid for seven days, and County Commissioners will need to officially affirm the declaration to extend its duration.
“There is no need to panic,” added Judge Sklar. “But we do need for everyone to take this seriously. It is a serious matter for our healthcare community and our vulnerable population.”
By John Meng, Publisher/Editor