April 29, 2020 (Williamson County, TX) -- Williamson County's Stay Home Stay Safe order will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 30. Starting May 1, Williamson County businesses will follow Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders issued April 27, 2020, which allow businesses to reopen safely and strategically in phases, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott’s detailed plan is outlined in Texans Helping Texans: The Governor's Report to Open Texas. This report helps Texans understand Phase I by outlining the new protocols, guidance, and recommendations. A copy of the report and executive orders can be found on the county’s website at www.wilco.org.
“Governor Abbott is leading Texas in a positive direction, and the orders are reasonable and thoughtful. In the days ahead, you will see Williamson County stand strong and respond to this new direction, while staying vigilant to protect the most vulnerable in our community,” said Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell.
Under Phase I, certain services and activities are allowed to open with limited occupancy. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is issuing minimum standard health protocols for all businesses and individuals to follow. The Governor provided special guidance for Texans over the age of 65, and detailed a comprehensive mitigation plan for nursing homes in Texas to follow.
The Governor also announced a statewide testing and tracing program developed by DSHS that will help public health officials quickly identify and test Texans who contract COVID-19 and mitigate further spread of the virus.
In order to increase testing capabilities and offer more testing to our residents, Williamson County is opening several testing sites throughout the county. The first site will open Thursday, April 30, and it will be led by Williamson County and Cities Health District personnel. During the Tuesday, April 28, Commissioners Court meeting an agreement with a private provider for testing sites was approved. This agreement will make it possible for more testing sites to open around the county in the coming days.
Before getting tested at a Williamson County site, residents who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will have to take an online screening. To take the assessment visit, www.wilco.org/coronavirus.
To protect those who are at high risk of getting COVID-19 and are considered the most vulnerable, Williamson County is working with its partner cities to continue to visit nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the county. The visits are to ensure the facilities continue to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Protecting our elderly population, which I consider to be our most valuable, continues to be our priority. As we follow the path to reopen our county, we are focused on enforcing these guidelines to keep COVID-19 from further impacting out most vulnerable population,” said Gravell.
County Judge Bill Gravell is echoing Governor Abbott’s sentiment and is strongly encouraging people over the age of 65 to stay at home as much as possible. Residents should maintain appropriate distance from any member of the household who has been out of the residence in the previous 14 days. For those that do leave the home, you are urged to implement social distancing and practice good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation.
John William Hellerstedt, M.D., Chief Medical Officer with the Texas Department of State Health Services, recommends all residents continue to follow these critical health guidelines:
· Stay home if you can.
· Wash hands often and for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
· Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, doorknobs, and other places touched often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Williamson County residents should continue to practice social distancing, avoid crowds, and limit physical contact. The CDC continues to recommend that residents use cloth face coverings in public to help slow the spread of the virus.
Although the Stay Home Stay Safe Order is expiring, the County’s local disaster declaration is still in effect. Williamson County elected officials and department heads are making plans for the re-opening of county offices. Information will be available on the county website as it becomes available.