SMITH COUNTY, Texas — Smith County officials have issued a mandatory stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The order, which was decided on following a briefing on Thursday, will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, and expires until Friday, April 10, at 11:59 p.m. The order could be extended or shortened, depending on how the local COVID-19 situation changes.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Smith County is now at 27. One death has been reported.
Of the cases:
- 24 patients live in Tyler
- 3 patients live in Smith County
In addition, seven of the cases are travel related and 20 are due to community spread. Nine patients are in the hospital and seven are practicing home-isolation.
NET Health CEO George Roberts said a Smith County healthcare worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19, however it was not work-related and was acquired through community spread. He also said there were no confirmed cases in nursing homes or assisted living centers.
The Public Health Lab of East Texas (PHLET) has reviewed tests for approximately 401 people as of Friday at 2:30 p.m., according to Dr. Jeffrey Levin of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler. Dr. Levin also serves as the medical adviser for Smith County.
STAY AT HOME ORDER
“The purpose of this order is to further protect the health, safety and welfare of our Smith County community,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. "It is also to ensure that – as a community – we take affirmative steps to support our local health care providers and institutions by mitigating any spikes in COVID19 patient numbers.”
The order requires all individuals anywhere in Smith County to stay at home – except to conduct certain essential activities, services and work.
Smith County residents may leave their residence only to perform these "essential activities:"
- To engage in activities or perform tasks essential to their health and safety, or to the health and safety of their family or household members, including, pets, such as obtaining medical supplies or medication, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
- To obtain necessary services or supplies for themselves or household members or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as food, pet supply and any other household consumer products and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences.
- To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements, such as walking, hiking, running or riding a bicycle.
- To perform work providing essential products and services at an essential business or locked business (see definition of a locked business in the order.
- To care for a family member or pet in another household.
- People may leave their residence to work for or obtain services at any “health care operations,” such as hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies, other health care facilities, health care suppliers, home health care services providers, mental health providers, or any related and/or ancillary health care services.
- It also includes veterinary care and all health care services provided to animals. "Health care operations" does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities. People may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of “Critical Infrastructure,” as more particularly identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors, which can be found here.
- Nothing in the “stay at home order” shall prohibit the activities of any first responder, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatcher, detention officer, court personnel, or law enforcement personnel. It also does not prohibit any individual from performing or accessing “Essential Governmental Functions,” as determined by the governmental entity performing those functions.
- Each governmental entity shall identify and designate appropriate employees or contractors to continue providing and carrying out essential functions, and all shall be performed in compliance with social distancing.
- Nothing in the order restricts the activities of any public, private, or charter school, or any homeschool association, including without limitation the delivery or pick-up of meals, supplies, or homework assignments.
For the purposes of this Amended Order, the term "essential businesses” means:
- Health care operations
- Businesses engaged in activities necessary for the operation, maintenance or support of critical infrastructure
- Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks, convenience stores and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of food and any other household consumer products, and liquor stores; this includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences; this also includes facilities that provide warehouse and shipping services for the above mentioned products.
- Food cultivation, including farming, livestock and fishing
- Businesses that provide food, shelter and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals
- Newspapers, television, radio and other media services
- Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair and related facilities
- Banks and related financial institutions
- Hardware and construction supply stores
- Firearms and ammunition manufacturer, sales or repair
- Plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences
- Businesses providing mailing and shipping services, including post office boxes
- Laundromats, dry-cleaners and laundry service providers
- Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery, drive-thru or carry out; patrons may not wait inside a restaurant for their food orders, unless physical distancing of 6' is observed at all times; restaurants are urged to create a system that does not involve such lines or gatherings of people waiting to order or waiting to receive their order
- Businesses that supply products needed for people to work from home
- Businesses that supply essential businesses with support or supplies necessary to operate.
- Businesses that warehouse, ship or deliver groceries, food, goods, or services directly to residences or to essential businesses or locked businesses
- Airlines, taxis, and other private transportation providers providing transportation services necessary for essential activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this order
- Home-based care for seniors, adults or children
- Residential facilities and shelters for seniors, adults and children
- Professional services, including legal, accounting, insurance, real estate services, appraisal, survey and title services
- Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to work as permitted
- Utilities, telecommunications, trash collection and disposal, law enforcement, EMS/ambulance, corrections, dispatch, animal shelters/animal control, and any other governmental employees who have been deemed essential by the respective governmental agency or department
- Janitorial and maintenance services, defense industry, space and technology industry, technology support, and scientific research
- Mortuary services, including funeral homes, crematoriums and cemetery workers
“Essential travel” includes travel for any of the following purposes:
- Any travel related to the provision of or access to essential activities, essential governmental functions, essential businesses or minimum basic operations
- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons
- Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals and any other related services
- Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction
- Travel required by law enforcement or court order
- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the county
“Even with this order in place, the primary defense to the spread of COVID-19 remains the individual decisions that we each make on a minute-to-minute basis,” Judge Moran said. “I cannot regulate common sense and cannot ensure good-decision making by every citizen in this county at every moment. That is left to each of us individually. So, self-regulate.”
On Wednesday, Gregg County issued a mandatory shelter-in-place that went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
Other East Texas counties with confirmed cases include:
- Angelina County - 1
- Bowie County - 1
- Cass County - 1
- Cherokee County - 1
- Gregg County - 4
- Harrison County - 1
- Hopkins County - 1
- Morris County - 1
- Nacogdoches County - 1
- Rusk County - 2
- Shelby County - 1
- Upshur County - 1
- Van Zandt County - 1
For more information on the coronavirus, text "FACTS" to (903) 600-2600.