Waco disaster declaration, shelter in place order extended for 2 weeks

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Waco City Council, during an unprecedented online meeting Tuesday morning, voted to extend Mayor Kyle Deaver’s March 17 declaration of local disaster and concurrently the shelter in place order he issued Monday.

Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver announced the new restrictions Monday. (Staff photo)

The unanimous vote means the declaration and shelter and place order will remain in effect through April 7, although both could be extended again.

McLennan County commissioners Tuesday approved an amended shelter in place order to remove an errant reference to an inapplicable statute and to include real estate and insurance in the list of essential businesses.

Deaver issued the shelter in place order Monday, following the lead of Dallas County, which announced a similar order on Sunday and an hour later McLennan County Commissioners approved a countywide shelter in place order, as well.

The county’s order, like the city’s orders non-essential businesses in the county to close, directs residents to shelter in place, and sets limits on travel outside the home as part of the effort to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

As of Tuesday morning, 24 cases of the new virus had been confirmed in McLennan County.

Both orders were effective at one minute before midnight Monday.

Violators will be cited for class C misdemeanors.

“I’ve been convinced by the health care professionals including our local health experts that it’s more important to act early than to act too late," Deaver said during a news conference Monday morning.

Residents may leave their homes only for essential activities such as trips to a grocery store, pharmacy or healthcare facility.

All but essential businesses are ordered to close.

The order exempts hospitals, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, food cultivators, professional service provider such as accountants, hardware stores, plumbers and electricians, shipping agencies, those that provide any type of shelter, media, gas stations and convenience stores, banks, restaurants that provide takeout/delivery or drive-through service, laundromats and drycleaners, home-based senior care providers, janitorial and maintenance services and child care facilities.

The order also exempts first responders,

Non-essential businesses must shut down except for what's required to maintain minimum basic operations, the order says.

Those who leave their homes for essential business should observe social distancing requirements.

The order does not prohibit residents from walking, hiking, running or riding a bicycle, provided the social distancing requirement is observed.

“We must do this together if we’re going to get through this quickly," Deaver said.

“We will come out of this a better and stronger Waco,” he said.

Sixteen cases have been reported in Bell County and one has been reported in Milam County.

Cases have also been reported in Falls, Robertson, Limestone and Falls counties.

The Mexia ISD reported Sunday that a high school band trip sponsor has also tested positive for COVID-19.

The man is not a Limestone County resident.

He returned home immediately after the trip.

Dallas County Judge Jenkins issued a "Stay Home Stay Safe" order effective at midnight.

The order, which will remain in effect until midnight on April 3, orders all Dallas County residents to shelter in place at their homes.

Residents may leave their homes only for essential activities or to provide or perform essential businesses.

More than 1.5 billion people, a fifth of the world's population, are being asked or ordered to stay home as new virus infections soar.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the National Guard could begin monitoring drive-in COVID-19 testing sites on Monday.

At a Sunday news conference he prodded the federal government to do more to help the states secure more tests and medical supplies to fight the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Abbott, however declined to follow the lead of other states with a statewide “shelter in place” order.

He issued orders to allow hospitals to treat two patient in a room, rather than one, and directing heath care workers to postpone all "elective or non-essential” medical procedures.

Almost a week ago, Waco officials declared a local state of disaster and public health emergency, ordering bars to close and limiting restaurants, wineries and microbreweries to take-out and drive-through service.

That order banned any gathering, indoor or outdoor, that brings or could bring 10 or more people together in a single room or enclosed space.

It also closed down indoor recreational facilities and indoor amusement facilities, which include such businesses as gyms, theaters, pool halls, bingo halls and video arcades.

Essential businesses include healthcare, grocery stores; farmers’ markets; food banks; convenience stores; liquor stores; farming; livestock; fishing; social services; newspapers; television stations; radio stations; other media outlets; gas stations; auto supply; auto repair; banks and financial; hardware and construction supply; plumbers; electricians; exterminators; mailing and shipping services; laundromats; dry cleaners; restaurants (drive-thru or takeout); food trucks; businesses that sell products needed by those working from home; businesses that ship or deliver groceries; food products or services directly to homes; airlines; taxis; private transportation services; home-based care for seniors; adults of children; residential facilities and shelters for seniors; adults and children; professional services such as law offices; accounting firms; insurance and real estate; childcare facilities (under specified conditions); utilities; telecommunication; trash collection; law enforcement; EMS and paramedics; animal shelters; janitorial and maintenance services; funeral homes and providers; defense; space and technology; technology support; and scientific research.

Essential activities include travel related to health care or health care for pets; picking up supplies needed to work from home; making purchases at a grocery store (one person per family); picking up food at a restaurant; caring for a family member or pet in another household; and outdoor activities such as running; biking or walking.