• May 28, 2020

Mayor drafts emergency declaration - Odessa American: Local News

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Mayor drafts emergency declaration

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Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 7:52 pm

During the City council work session on Tuesday evening, Mayor David Turner handed council members a draft of a declaration of emergency due to the coronavirus.

“What that does is it simply helps us as a council affect change in our community,” Turner said. He said that if they sign the document, they could limit groups of 50 or over with exceptions.

“We can put in there churches are exempt, weddings, funerals, things like that are exempt.”

He added that after seven days, the council has to approve that document again. The Declaration is just a draft, he said. He said that the purpose of the declaration was to limit gatherings of around 50 people.

“This declaration hereby limits the size of gatherings to no more than 50 people and mandates the cancellation of all such gatherings until further notice,” he read from the draft. “A gathering is an event,” that brings together or is likely to bring together 50 or more persons at the same time in a single room or other single confined closed space, he said.

He mentioned that they reviewed multiple other city declarations including Lubbock and El Paso’s. He added that in Lubbock’s Declaration of Emergency, a gathering does not include public or private schools, licensed daycare facilities, places of worship, weddings, funerals, museums as long as visitors aren’t within arms length of each other for an extended period of time, transit spaces like bus stops, office space, hotels, residential buildings, grocery stores, shopping malls, outdoor markets, hospital and medical facilities and shelters, jails and detention centers.

“If we see gatherings of other than 50 at this point, we can’t take any action. If in a week, we say, ‘Okay we’re seeing events and gatherings’, we can actually put in that the police can issue a citation. That is up to council,” he said. Turner said that draft was just a guideline and advised council members and city officials to call him with questions and concerns.

“We’re probably looking at doing something, I think in the next week,” he said. “Right now for the health of our City, we’re going to have to set a limit and enforce that limit.”

The Odessa American tried to get a hardcopy of the declaration that was handed out to council members and was told to ask for it via email.

When At-Large council member Peggy Dean asked about restaurants, Turner said that they probably wouldn’t have to close, but there may be table distance regulations that other cities have implemented. He added that if the declaration of emergency is issued, they could talk about that further. Turner said that El Paso has declared, Lubbock has declared, Abilene is going to declare, San Angelo has already declared. He also said that Midland was going to declare.

“I think lack of information and lack of direction stirs up fear,” he said. Turner added that he would be doing Facebook Live in English and City Manager Michael Marrero would be doing them in Spanish.

That meeting was the most information that has come out of the city.

Very little information is coming out of Odessa and Midland other than there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus so far.

Both cities will not release how many have been tested and found negative for the virus sweeping the country.

City of Odessa, Ector County and Medical Center Hospital officials as well as Ector County Health Department officials will not answer questions but rather refer all questions to the city’s public information officer.

A news release sent Tuesday details that the Ector County Health Department has gone to appointment only and only one person is allowed to accompany patients. They will not allow walk-ins at all. Call 432-498-4141 for an appointment.

The release detailed that the number of people tested in Ector County will not be released nor will the number of quarantined.

Tests are being conducted by private labs, as well as a Public Health Lab in Lubbock. These labs are also reading the tests. The turnaround time is 24-48 hours for the Public Health Lab in Lubbock.

It also detailed that ORMC and MCH are not cancelling elective surgeries.

As far as public gatherings, City and County officials can make their own decision based on the community spread. Best practice is to follow CDC guidelines, and the CDC recommendation is to avoid gatherings of 50 or more for the next 8 weeks.

The release also detailed that another news release would be issued in 48 hours.

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