City of Tyler explains closure of Harvey Hall following Legionnaires’ outbreak

City hopes to reopen building ‘as soon as possible’ following full system cleaning
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Updated: Nov. 21, 2019 at 10:20 AM CST
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TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - The City of Tyler is moving forward with what it is calling precautionary cleaning at Harvey Hall Convention Center.

The City temporarily closed the event center over the possibility of Legionnaires’ disease cases being linked to the building.

“We wanted to ensure if there is anything, or even if there’s not, that we go ahead and get it cleaned out, so we can look our customers, the citizens, in the eyes and say that it’s a safe facility and there’s nothing wrong with it," said City Manager Edward Broussard. "We’re kind of stuck here waiting for their (NET Health) results to come back, but the thing is we don’t like being stuck. So we are actually now just moving forward with our own plan of going in and doing the remediation, and getting it to a point where we can say with 100 percent certainty that everything is safe and secure in that facility.”

Broussard said the City contacted a third-party contractor on Wednesday to plan cleaning at Harvey Hall. Funding for the cleaning will come from the hotel occupancy tax as a part of Harvey Hall’s operation fund, according to Broussard.

The City of Tyler released a press release with an update on Thursday evening.

“The City of Tyler has secured a third-party contractor to perform the remediation services at Harvey Hall,” the press release stated. “Those services are scheduled to begin Friday, Nov. 22.”

Eight cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed in East Texas.

“We were of the understanding that Harvey Hall was in a fine position and that there was no risk. Upon discussions with them yesterday (Wednesday) morning, we determined there is a low risk and a low potential associated with the Legionnaires’ situation. And with that, we just want to make sure for our citizens, for our employees, and for those who are using the facility, that even if it’s a low risk that they are not exposed to that," Broussard said.

Harvey Convention Center in Tyler is closed on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The City temporarily...
Harvey Convention Center in Tyler is closed on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The City temporarily closed the event center because of a possible link between the building and a Legionnaires' outbreak that has killed one person. (Blake Holland/KLTV Multimedia Journalist)(Source: Blake Holland/KLTV)

Broussard said, “For all of the different events that we’ve had in there, we have not heard or seen anything from our employees who are there day in and out coming down with anything that would be close to what be called Legionnaires’-type conditions.”

NET Health has confirmed eight cases of Legionnaires’ disease in East Texas. One of those cases was fatal.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia contracted by breathing in mist contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. Broussard said the city is discussing new policies and procedures regarding equipment that produces any kind of water mist or vapor.

“One of the things the East Texas State Fair allowed was hot tubs and misters that were a part of their expo. And in conversations that we’ve had, we will probably be looking at different policies and procedures that we need to do to ensure that type of equipment is not allowed or used in the facility," he said. "Anything that has water exposure is something we’re going to have serious questions about. One for the potential exposure to diseases like this and another reason being property damage.”

Broussard said it appears from preliminary discussions that the full system cleaning would probably take about three to four days.

“The intent is to see what we can do to make that move as fast as possible, so that can we open the doors for the different events especially at the end of the month and the beginning of December," Broussard said.


Two known Legionnaires’ patients were in the same part of Harvey Hall

Questions linger after Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

NET Health: Person with confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease dies

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