Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 6:12 a.m. CDT
Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 8:38 p.m. CDT
By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor
JEFFERSON – Marion County revealed Phase 1 of its three-step plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday.
“Marion County, City of Jefferson, and area agencies are working together in a collaborative task force to address our community response to the coronavirus (COVID-19),” the document declared.
The plan was signed by Emergency Management Coordinator and Pct. 1 Constable David Capps, Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur, and Jefferson Mayor Pro Tem Victor Perot.
Phase 1, dated March 19, gives guidelines for individuals and families as well as for schools and childcare.
The “guidelines are voluntary but highly encouraged based on current data,” according to page 2.
The plan reminds residents to not go to work if they feel sick, practice good hygiene such as washing their hands frequently and monitor local information available in your community about the disease.
The document also addresses social distancing.
“Avoid social gatherings of large groups. On March 16, the President recommended avoiding more than 10 people for the next fifteen days. On March 15, the CDC recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks,” the documents states.
On March 19, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered “every person in Texas shall avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.”
The response plan issued today does not reference the Governor’s order although it does state, “We are committed to following Governor Abbott’s directive” and “It should be noted that any current state or federal health directives supersede any less restrictive guidelines listed herein.”
The plan also addresses assisted living facilities and adult day care programs, workplaces, and community and faith-based organizations.
A complete copy of the document can be found on Jimplecute1848.com.
If Phase 2 of the response plan is implemented, “all recommendations within Phase 1 move from voluntary to mandatory.”
DSHS Updates COVID-19 Cases
The website reporting COVID-19 cases for the state of Texas Department of State Health Services was updated to include all confirmed COVID-19 cases by county.
As of Tuesday, the site reports 715 cases and 11 deaths in Texas. DSHS no longer reports any cases that cannot be attributed to a county as was the case Monday.
Cass, Morris, and Upshur are counties adjoining Marion County each with single confirmed cases of COVID-19. Marion and Harrison County have zero confirmed cases.
Dallas County reports the highest number of cases in Texas at 131 followed by Travis County at 79. Both counties have issued shelter in place orders this week along with fifteen other counties.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide “stay at home” order until at least April 13.
“We have the fastest growth rate of confirmed cases in the world over the first 13 days, right here in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “In the last two weeks our growth rate has been faster than any state or country in the world.”
The Louisiana Department of Health reports 1,388 cases and 46 deaths as of Tuesday.
Caddo Parrish, part of which adjoins Marion County, reports 40 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with no deaths.
On Mar. 19, LaFleur reminded the public that the threat from COVID-19 is real, if still unseen.
“I tell you it’s no longer if but when we will have a confirmed case of COVID-19,” LaFleur said.
Marion County Emergency Management Plan
On Mar. 19, LaFleur declared a disaster in Marion County due to the COVID-19 crisis which activated “Marion County’s Emergency Management Plan.”
It is unclear if Marion County intended to activate the Emergency Management Plan. LaFleur’s three-step plan described in this article was first introduced as the “Marion County emergency plan regarding the COVID-19 virus” but later was clarified to “not be an Emergency Plan, it is just a plan.”
Marion County and the City of Jefferson issued disaster declarations Mar. 19 and ratified them with commissioners and city council members Mar. 23.
Perot described the ratification of the disaster declaration to the Jefferson City Council as a means for qualifying Jefferson residents, businesses and city government for state and federal disaster relief funds.
County and city employees report there is one copy of the Emergency Management Plan and it resides with LaFleur and Capps.
The Jimp received a copy of the 42-page 2004 plan from the city Mar. 20. The plan calls for the county judge and city mayor to provide broad guidelines with the assistance of the emergency management coordinator. Department heads would then carry out those policies.
City and county employees are also called upon to track expenditures.
Key to the management plan is the activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Marion County has not announced that an EOC has been opened.
The Jimplecute was contacted by Assistant County Attorney Bill Gleason about a Texas Public Information request dated Mar. 20 for “an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies … of the Emergency Management Plan” for Jefferson and Marion County.
Gleason said the document is 400 pages and a copy would be delivered to the Jimp as soon as possible. The 10-business day deadline for the request is Apr. 3.
Bob can be contacted at Bob@Jimplecute1848.com.
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