BREAKING: Coronavirus shelter-in-place orders issued for Travis, Williamson counties

March 24, 2020 in News by RBN Staff


Philip Jankowski  

© Provided by Austin American-Statesman Mayor Steve Adler speaks during a press conference about the two presumptive cases of the new coronavirus found in Travis County on March 13, 2020.


[ANA RAMIREZ/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]12:30 p.m. update: Shelter-in-place orders have been issued for the city of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County.At a news briefing, Dr. Mark Escott, Travis County’s interim health authority made dire warnings of the state of the coronavirus in Central Texas. Escott said local hospital capacities for beds and ventilators could be reached in three to four weeks. By May, the area would need 20,000 hospital beds, Escott said.In recommending the shelter-in-place order, Escott said that he has also recommended that all local schools remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Earlier: The city of Austin on Tuesday joined a growing number of Texas communities where non-essential travel and business operations are now prohibited to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Mayor Steve Adler issued a shelter-in-place order Tuesday, according to a signed copy of the order posted on the city website. The order takes effect at midnight and runs through April 13. Travis County Sarah Eckhardt is expected to issue a similar order.

The order dictates that all residents must remain in their home unless to perform essential activities, such as buying groceries, pet supplies and other items needed to work from home. People can also leave their homes to exercise and walk their pets as long as they comply with social distancing rules, the order states. Travel is also permitted when needed to take care of another person or pet at another home.

People who violate the order can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed for 180 days, the order states.

All non-essential business operations must cease, the order states.

Essential business operations include nearly all medical workers, including dentists and veterinarians. Retailers that sell essential supplies are also permitted to continue operations. Those include grocery stores, big-box stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, liquor stores and stores that sell cleaning supplies.

Restaurants will continue to be allowed to provide curb-side, take out or delivery service. Other exempt businesses include gas stations, banks, hardware stores, laundry services, home maintenance businesses and news media.

Transportation businesses, including air travel, taxis and rideshares such as Uber and Lyft can also continue to operate. Capital Metro will also continue its transit operations, though social distancing guidelines are expected to be followed.

K-12 schools are allowed to have employees come to work as long as the work is related to facilitating distance learning. Food distribution at schools is also permitted.

At universities, similar rules are in place, except activities consider critical research are also allowed.

The order comes as the amount of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise locally and across the state. Travis County reported 86 cases Monday night. Statewide there were 784 confirmed cases, according to an American-Statesman analysis.

Adler, Eckhardt and Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell will hold a teleconference briefing on the orders at noon. Williamson County also will be placed under a shelter-in-place order.

CORONAVIRUS IN TEXAS: What we know, latest updates

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