City of Heath Update on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Tuesday, March 17, 2020
“If you are sick, stay home. Testing is far less important at this point than isolating yourself or family member from the general population unless there is respiratory distress.”
Dr. Gary A. Bonaquisti, Rockwall County Physician
(HEATH, TX – March 17, 2020) City of Heath Mayor Kelson Elam is joining community leaders throughout the United States in taking a proactive response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) by declaring a local state of emergency disaster in Heath, effective today.
The action follows the declaration of a national state of emergency by President Trump and a state of disaster for Texas by Governor Abbott and allows for measures to be taken to limit opportunities for the virus to spread. While cases in Texas have been relatively low, a spike is expected as testing for COVID-19 increases.
“We have spent an extensive amount of time in communication with local, county and state officials, including public health officials and the Rockwall County Office of Emergency Management,” said Mayor Elam. “This is not an action we take lightly, but our City is committed to doing its part to keep people healthy and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As experts say, ‘if we feel we are moving too quickly to get ahead of the spread of the virus, then we are moving too slowly’.”
“City offices will remain open with staff working to meet the needs of our residents and businesses, including Heath DPS protection and Public Works services. Trash and recycling collection will remain on schedule, and citizens can be confident in the safety of our water supply,” said Mayor Elam. (See facts from the North Texas Water Municipal District (NTWMD) below.)
Face-to-face service hours at Heath City Hall will be limited to 8 a.m. – 12 noon for the remainder of the week. At that time, the City will re-evaluate the schedule to determine if the temporary change should be extended for another week. City staff will remain available by phone and email during the normal business hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. People are urged to contact the City via phone or email where possible.
The City has taken additional cleaning measures and there are also hand sanitizer stations located in public areas. As much as possible, City staff is working with vendors and customers through online means such as phone meetings and conference calls, online payment options, and other online services. The 3% credit card fee on utility bills will be waived temporarily to promote phone and web payments.
Other measures identified in the City of Heath emergency declaration are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the City is taking these actions:
*Limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 attendees in accordance with the new federal guidelines.
—The Annual Heart of Heath 5K/1-Mile Family Fun Run on April 11 has been cancelled. Anyone who has already registered for the 5k or Family Fun Run will receive a refund.
—The March 24 City Council meeting has been cancelled; the April 14 meeting is tentative.
—Municipal Court on April 7 is canceled.
—Sports games and practices on Towne Center Park fields are cancelled until March 30, at which time the situation will be evaluated with the J.E.R. Chilton YMCA to determine if play may resume or the cancellation period should be extended. No new field reservations will be taken until further notice. Refunds on any deposits or fees paid can be obtained by contacting the YMCA at email@example.com.
—Use of the City of Heath Community Room is cancelled through April 30. May reservations will be evaluated at a later date. Refunds on any deposits or fees paid can be obtained by calling customer service at 972-771-6228.
—Reservations for the pavilions at Towne Center Park or Terry Park may proceed as booked at this time as long as gatherings do not exceed 10 people.
*The City has reached out to customer-service focused businesses including restaurants. Sit-down/eat-in service in restaurants will be halted at 9 p.m. tonight. Curbside takeout and delivery service will continue.
*The City encourages businesses to also limit public gatherings to no more than 10 attendees in accordance with the new federal guidelines. This includes special meetings and employees within the same physical area. Spacing of employees is encouraged to achieve mission critical business functions.
“We thank our citizens and businesses for their cooperation and understanding,” said Mayor Elam. “Our local businesses will feel the brunt of efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, and we are very concerned about their well being. Please support them now as possible, and robustly in the future after we get through this challenging time together.”
Facts Provided by City’s Water Supplier, North Texas Water Municipal District (NTWMD):
*Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low.
*Coronaviruses (and other viruses) do not persist in chlorinated/chloraminated waters, such as those used in the water treatment process and the transmission of drinking water.
*Standard municipal wastewater system disinfection practices, including ultraviolet irradiation and/or chlorination, are effective in controlling the virus provided utilities monitor and maintain required disinfection levels during treatment.
* The NTMWD is working on plans to ensure continuity of operations if the virus should begin to effect essential personnel or their families.
Contacts for COVID-19 Information:
COVID-19 Consumer Hotline: 682-236-7601
Following are CDC recommendations on how to prepare your workplace, school and home:
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