GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt has signed a declaration of local disaster and public health emergency in response to COVID-19.
The declaration states, “As Gregg County Judge, I have concerns regarding inappropriate accommodations for an influx of local COVID-19 patients, personal protective equipment shortages for emergency response personnel and the potential for the escalating spread of the disease in pandemic form.”
KLTV’s Jamey Boyum spoke to Stoudt Monday afternoon to learn more about what the declaration means.
“It opens up the full resources of the state that we can request additional assets we might need and that’s a long list of materials that we might request. It also opens up for small businesses to file claims of small business regarding additional financial support during this emergency,” Stoudt said. “It just gives us some more tools so to speak in the toolbox to deal with this ever-changing issue that we’re all dealing with right now. It’s a lot of uncharted waters.”
The declaration also said the Mayor of Longview has also issued a declaration of a public health emergency.
The declaration will last for a period of not more than seven days unless continued or renewed by the Gregg County Commissioners Court. The declaration of a local state of disaster and public health emergency also activated the Gregg County Emergency Management Plan.
The declaration authorizes the County Judge to control ingress to and egress from Gregg County and to control the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises within the county.
“We are not restricting anybody from leaving or coming in from Gregg County. That’s just an absolute wrong rumor that’s been out there,” Stoudt said. “We are doing precautionary measures to be prepared in the event that we have additional cases that are diagnosed and have a plan of attack in order to deal with it.”
The declaration states all officers and employees of Gregg County, including without limitation all law-enforcement officers employed by Gregg County and all medical personnel employed by Gregg County, are hereby authorized and directed to cooperate to the fullest extent allowed by law with the health authority designated by Gregg County to enforce any and all communicable disease control measures imposed by said health authority pursuant to Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code or other applicable law.
Jamey also had a chance to speak with Longview Mayor Andy Mack about the city’s declaration.
“It gives us the power to make decisions quickly and necessarily for our citizens if that need arises. This is more preparatory, especially for federal relief for dollars we can get. Resources we’re going to need in case our hospitals get overloaded," Mack said. “We’re already making plans right now to have an additional facility the collection of testing samples so that we don’t crowd our ERs.”