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Nueces County issues stay-at-home order

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales issued a shelter-in-place order for all residents at a news conference in the county courthouse March 25. Screenshot from live stream

A two-week-long stay-at-home order has been issued for Nueces County, beginning at midnight Thursday, March 26, and going through Wednesday, April 8, at which time it will be reevaluated.

At a 4 p.m. news conference in the Nueces County Courthouse, County Judge Barbara Canales signed the order, explaining that the county already has been following restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an executive order made by Governor Greg Abbott on March 21.

“It is time for voluntary measures to become mandatory,” Canales said. “It is mandatory to stay at home. It is not merely a suggestion anymore. It’s a lawful order, but it is not a lockdown. It is not a travel restriction for our borders.”

The county will set up an information hotline by Friday for people to call who have questions about the order.

She explained how the order has been crafted to uniquely serve a coastal community.

“We reserve shelter in place for hurricanes and chemical emergencies,” she said. “We are not doing that with this order. Shelter in place means different things to those of us who live in coastal and industrial environments.”

She stressed that people are allowed to leave their homes.

“We want you to breathe fresh air, enjoy the beauty that is our home,” she said, “I want you to go for a walk or a jog or go to the grocery store. Some people will go to work, but if you can work from home, please do so.”

She made a distinction between things you want to do and things you need to do.

“This order does not have all of what you want to do in (the exemptions),” she said. “That is the sacrifice we are making to reduce contact and slow the spread of this virus.”

She also promised the business community that the county has already started working with chambers of commerce, the local members of the Legislature, and state and federal government to pursue help for small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 measures.

“By Monday next week, I will have redirected the county development commission to make the economic impact of these orders a top priority to focus on small or large businesses that have been affected,” she said. “We will pursue funding, seek opportunities. We want to help.”

In a city news conference at 3 p.m., Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni announced that the county now has 11 recorded cases of COVID-19, all travel-related (one is a resident of another county). The city will be holding daily news conferences at 3 p.m. and releasing new numbers at 4:30 p.m. on its joint county/city COVID-19 webpage. The numbers will reflect reported cases as of 4 p.m. the day posted.

Meanwhile, the president issued a major disaster declaration for Texas, which should aid access to federal resources. Texas Governor Greg Abbott called it “great news” on Twitter..

“This will expand resources available to Texas and speed our ability to robustly respond to #coronavirus,” reads the tweet.

Disaster declarations are made when an event causes damage beyond the capabilities of state and local governments to adequately deal with the consequences. An official declaration provides access to funds for emergency and permanent needs for individual and public infrastructure.

In a letter to the president requesting the declaration, Abbott asked for individual assistance crisis counseling and direct federal assistance for all 254 of the state’s counties. The main concern, reads the letter, which includes the signatures of U.S. senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, is for personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.

Other states that declared disasters because of COVID-19 are Florida, Louisiana, Iowa, California, Washington, and New York.

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