Nacogdoches County officials reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday evening, the same day a countywide Stay Home, Stay Safe order went into effect.
Issued on Sunday, the order states all individuals in the county are to remain in their homes with exceptions for essential activities or to operate essential businesses. Failure to comply means a fine of up to $1,000 or jail sentence up to 180 days.
Businesses such as stores and gas stations may remain open “by using good social distancing practices,” County Judge Greg Sowell said in a video address posted to social media on Sunday. “(The order) encourages working from home if possible.”
In Nacogdoches County, more than 100 tests have been conducted on potential COVID patients in the past few days, according to County Emergency Management Office spokesperson Amy Mehaffey. The total number of confirmed cases is now at four. The first case was announced March 25, and a second case was reported Saturday. These cases are likely not isolated, and officials encourage all residents — healthy or not — to behave as if they already have the virus and are contagious.
“Do not gather in groups of more than 10,” Sowell said. “If you are high risk or showing symptoms of this virus, stay home.”
Residents may go outdoors for exercise, and while parks and playgrounds remain open, families are discouraged from using playground equipment. Walkers or runners on trails should keep at least 6 feet away from others.
“Restrooms will be locked because those can’t be cleaned in the way they should be, and port-o-potties are being picked up for the same reason,” Mehaffey said.
Barring being lifted or extended by officials, the stay home order will expire one minute before midnight on April 7.
A local call center and testing site have been set up for those who are experiencing symptoms and feel they may have been exposed to the coronavirus. These individuals are urged not to go to the emergency room or walk-in clinics and instead call 936-468-4787.
COVID-19 cases have spread like wildfire since the first case was reported in the U.S. on Jan. 21.
Monday, 124 of Texas’ 254 counties have confirmed at least one case of COVID-19, with Harris County this week surpassing Dallas County with the most cases at 526, according to Texas Health and Human Services. Angelina and Rusk counties now have at least three confirmed cases each. Shelby County has two cases, and Cherokee County has reported one.
“The only way we can confirm cases of this virus is upon information received from the Texas Department of State Health Services,” Sowell said, adding that COVID-19 patients in Nacogdoches County for treatment would not be included in the reports if they don’t have a local address.