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Henderson County revises orders to match Governor’s

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Proclaims April 21 as San Jacinto Day in county

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HENDERSON COUNTY–Henderson County Commissioners’ Court revised the previous orders to “remain and shelter in their place of residence” to coincide with the new executive orders by Governor Abbott when they met April 21. The amended orders became effective immediately. As of that meeting, the county had reported 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
County Attorney Clint Davis explained that the restrictions commonly known as “shelter in place” were never designed to stop the virus but to slow the spread so medical facilities and resources would not be overwhelmed and inhibit patients receiving needed care. Davis explained that statewide, the demand for resources reached its peak April 15 and were now on the decline. Statewide there are 28,633 hospital beds available for patients who would need treatment for COVID-19 with a predicted need of 1,364 beds and 2,259 ICU beds available with a predicted need of 300. “The orders have done what they were intended to do,” Davis said.
Changes included non-essential retail businesses ability to operate. Non-essential retail may now operate if employees are trained on environmental cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, employees are screened for fever and symptoms and wear face coverings at work and keep social distancing while at work.
Davis said he felt the orders “picked on the little guy” because larger retailers such as Lowe’s could have as many as 35 employees working with no face protection and smaller businesses could have five employees and have these restrictions. “But this is coming from the Governor and we have no ability to change this,” Davis told the court.
The orders lifted the restrictions on elective medical procedures, deleting the paragraph pertaining to that from the orders. Hunting and fishing were also added to the approved outdoor activities as long as social distancing was observed between those not in the same household. That restriction also applies to those walking or running for exercise, Davis explained.
These explanations and specifics were necessary, Davis said, to alleviate the number of calls the Sheriff’s Office was receiving for enforcement of the orders.
Davis also explained that the county adopted the revised Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) 3.0 list of essential business list. He said he didn’t find changes to what the essential and non-essential businesses were, but that the revision clarified the distinction with improved language.
Davis pointed out that the orders mirrored the Governor’s orders except for the section on short-term rentals. Airbnb and recreational vehicles (RVs) short-term rentals are still prohibited in the county order.
The expiration of the order remains April 30, although the Governor’s orders go to May 13. The Governor’s appointed task force is set to report April 27 and changes may come from that, Davis said. “My hope is that we get to the 30th and let our orders expire…there is a good chance (with current trends and predictions) that the Governor’s orders will lessen and not increase,” he added. The amended orders are available on the county’s website:
Henderson County Commissioners also proclaimed April 21 as San Jacinto Day in the county, commemorating the battle of San Jacinto. Although the battle only lasted 18 minutes, County Judge Wade McKinney said, “It is considered a pivotal and decisive battle in Texas’ War for Independence.”
The court also approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Henderson County and the Trinidad Volunteer Fire Department to provide what HC Fire Marshal Shane Renberg called “rehab” services which were often needed in fires and other emergency response times. The American Red Cross previously provided what they termed “canteen”  services, supplying first responders and emergency personnel with drinks and snacks while on scene, but now were unable to do so due to lack of volunteers. Trinidad VFD volunteered to step in and provide the service for the county. The county would then re-supply the department for any resources used. “Red Cross still provides for the victims in terms of shelter and aid,” Renberg added.
In other business, commissoners:
• approved Criminal District Attorney Mark Hall to hire another attorney at step 2 pay and use approximately $1,400 of seizure funds to help cover a portion of cost for the attorney to obtain insurance through COBRA until available for county coverage.
• approved donations of homemade face masks from Ginger Carter and Elaine Henson for distribution to needed areas by HC Fire Marshal Shane Renberg. Several commissioners voiced their thanks for the generous donations.
• approved participation of the Clint W. Murchison Memorial Library in the Interlibrary Loan Lending Reimbursement Program which allows libraries to share books and other resources, saving needed funds.
• approved payment of 2019 bills in the amount of $6,731.18 and 2020 bills totaling $233,088.73.