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Corpus Christi, Nueces County to enforce rule of 10

Corpus Christi officials kept their distance during a press conference in city hall announcing the area’s compliance with Governor Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 executive order. Only two representatives from each media were allowed in to cover the event, which was posted live on Facebook and Youtube. Photo is a screen capture from Facebook showing Mayor Joe McComb at the microphone outlining the four points of the executive order.

Following Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order restricting gatherings of more than 10 people at a time is not a shelter-in-place or a lockdown, stressed city and council officials at a joint media conference at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in City Hall. It is serious, and will be taken seriously by law enforcement, said Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb.

“These are not just suggestions from the governor,” McComb said. “A violation of this order is a violation of the emergency management plans of this county and can result in a $500 fine per violation per day or imprisonment of 80 days per violation.”

Governor Abbott issued his executive order at a media conference three hours earlier, emphasizing four major points, which Mayor McComb reiterated. McComb also said the city would be adjusting a previous local ordinance to reflect the governor’s order exactly.

The governor’s executive order will be in place from 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 20, to 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 3.

Order No. 1 requires every person in the state to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.

Order No. 2 declares that people should avoid eating and drinking in bars and restaurants or food courts. Eateries may still prepare and sell food for delivery or to be picked up curbside or at drive-through windows.

“I would encourage everyone to support our local restauranteurs,” McComb said as an aside. “They have people working for them who need to make a living. It will have a health and an economic impact on our community. A lot of our local restaurants have stepped up and are offering takeout. This order just says no eating in restaurants.”

He continued with Order No. 3, cutting off visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“That will hard for people who have loved ones and friends they want to see,” McComb said. “The most compassionate thing to do is to not go and expose them to further risk. Communicate in other ways.”

Order No. 4 closes schools temporarily, including elementary, secondary, colleges, and universities.

He then mentioned exceptions to these mandates, which include going to the grocery store or visiting parks or the beaches. Domestic travel is not restricted, and businesses may continue to operate.

“If you have to conduct business then go about it,” McComb said. “Do business. This is an economic challenge as well as a health challenge.”

City utilities and infrastructure work will continue fully staffed, said City Manager Peter Zanoni. City Hall will remain open, but only essential staff will be on hand. Others will work remotely. City council meetings will continue with some members attending digitally so as not to violate the “rule of 10” executive order.

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales reported that jury trials have been postponed, but the court system is continuing to take depositions, hear motions, and conduct any business it can by telecommunication.

“I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this concept of sacrifice and the sacrifices we are all making,” she said. “Tell your children, for once a sacrifice is not just by the parents, but all of us. If the happiness you give up is for the sake of another, that is the definition of a sacrifice. It can be hard during this most beautiful time of year not to congregate in groups, but we have to make certain we are following these guidelines.”

State Rep. Todd Hunter was the cheerleader of the group.

“We are going to win this,” he said. “We are learning new things, and we are taking this seriously, but we are going to win, to be positive, and to set the example for the state, nation, and the world.”

Assistant Director of Public Health Dante Gonzalez ended the media conference with a thank you to the public for working together in a time of crisis.

Anyone with questions can call the county hotline at 361-826-7200.

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